Summary: God’s plan is to bring us together as part of the same family – His family - A look at some family ties that hold the family of God together.
Intro: What holds a family together? Parents? Blood? Common interests? Love? All of the above? As members of God’s family we have the privilege of sharing our lives together. When something exciting happens to one member of our church family, we can all rejoice together with them. When something terrible happens that causes grief, we weep together, trusting God for the strength to make it through. There is nothing like family! God sure comes up with some great ideas.
-Now sometimes not all members of the family see eye to eye. In fact sometimes there are family feuds that can get pretty ugly. Sometimes there might be a subgroup within the family that has a standoff against another subgroup. The result can be anger, hostility, suspicion, and even hatred amongst the people in these subgroups. This is unfortunate, since such feuding is completely against the wishes of the family leader who started the family. But since He knows human nature, He knew that the fighting could be a big problem. And that’s why He did something about it. He gave equal access and favor to every member of the family so they could come to Him at anytime with any concern. He did away with the old nature filled with pride and selfishness and replaced it with a nature like His own, where unconditional love would be expressed continually.
-In our text today Paul identifies 2 subgroups as Jews and Gentiles. The Jews were God’s chosen people through whom God had revealed Himself for thousands of years. The Gentiles were all non-Jews who knew little or nothing about who God was. But God’s plan was to bring them together as part of the same family – His family.
-So today we’re going to look at some family ties that hold the family of God together.
I. Remember how far you were from God
11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)-- 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
-A few weeks ago we looked at the B.C. life versus the A.D. life. We all have a history of life before Jesus. Even those who grow up in a Christian home and attend church their entire lives come to a point where they have to decide for themselves whom they will serve. I know that was the case with me. In fact, there were several points where I had to decide what direction I was going to take. By God’s grace He brought me through the times when I was directionally challenged and just wanted to do my own thing. God spared me from a lot of the heartache of poor choices. But that doesn’t mean that I was always close to Him.
-My senior year in High School was a good year but a tough year. I had made a commitment to Christ at summer camp after my junior year. In fact, I can look back and remember making a commitment each year of camp to follow Jesus and do all I could to tell my friends about Him. Sometimes it didn’t take very long to forget about that commitment.
-But by my senior year that commitment began to stick and I really made an effort to walk with the Lord and honor Him with my life. However, at the end of the year I decided I’d been good long enough and wanted to have a little fun like everybody else. So I made some compromises and started heading down the wrong path. I didn’t want to stick out like a sore thumb. I just wanted to be one of the guys. Well, I got away with sloppy living for awhile, but I wasn’t happy, and God knew just what I needed to help me get back on track with Him. A beating might have helped, but instead He chose to use a cranky traveling evangelist. To this day I don’t really like the guy – even though he has gone on to be with the Lord. However, I could not shake the conviction of the Holy Spirit as He gently pulled me back into God’s favor.
-It’s awesome to see how far God has brought us, but sometimes we need to remember what kind of person we were before He got a hold of us. I’m not proud of the memories that come from the times I did my own thing. I was selfish and was only interested in having fun and being accepted by my friends. Why remember such negative things? One of the biggest benefits I see is humility. In most family squabbles there is a distinct lack of humility. However, if we step back and remember what we were before Jesus found us, then by His grace we can avoid returning there through our actions and attitudes.