Summary: Who we are meant to be as shown by the book of Ephesians.

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I Belong

Series: Becoming Who We Are (Engaging Ephesians)

February 2, 2014 - Brad Bailey


Today is the Super Bowl... Any Seattle Seahawk fans? Any Denver Bronco fans?

It's great to be a have a team that you can identify with.

If you don't have a strong identity with a sort of feel you're missing something.

In a very mild reflects our desire is to belong.

And for some football fans...there is a major sense of identity. (Some images of fans)

> Identity is rooted in belonging...and in what we belong to.

It also reflects that belonging is always defined by our differences... by being in or out. Once you are in...we raise the wall that we once found so painful.

> The deepest pain is to be excluded. [1]

- An adolescent boy is never picked for the team.

- A teenage girl is shunned by those she had thought were her friends.

- Someone is de-friended on social media for all to see.

- The romantic love that turns silence.

- One gets "terminated" from their work place community... and it brings a wall of isolation.

All of these are reflections of the pain of being excluded. Luckily they are generally just temporary and we can navigate our way through them. But could they be faint echoes of what a greater exclusion...of being ultimately excluded...eternally isolated? That is what the Scriptures refer to as outer darkness.

> As we continue our series.... we face the question: Do you belong? the Apostle Paul... is declaring the big picture ...the divine drama. This is where we find ourselves. The playwright entered the play in Christ.... and called human lives back to the creator... and Paul explaining that storyline.

Last week... separated from God as the source of life....means we are dead...dead already.... for we must face judgment...BUT GOD.... rescued us.

But if we're Gentiles, we have never belonged to God's people and purposes.

So do we really belong?

Lets pick up in Ephesians 2:11...

[Separation: Hopelessly Outside (2:11–12)]

Ephesians 2:11-12 (NLT)

11 Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. 12 In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope.

To understand who you need to understand what you were and the significance of what has changed.

So Paul begins, "Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders."

Paul begins by declaring the state of utter separation and being Hopelessly Outside...that all Gentiles faced.

The majority of us here are likely Gentiles...and it's hard to feel like we are "outsiders" among those gathering to worship God. But not only did every Gentile understand how they were "outsiders".... it defined them at the core of their being.

We have to grasp that Israel was defined as the Hebrew people...the Jewish people...for whom the living God had called and formed and made a covenant with. And it was the Jewish Messiah-Savior who had come to save the Jews. No one thought of the Gentiles as even being a part of the work of God. [2]

So Paul begins at this point...writing to primarily Gentiles... and speaking to the reality of what Gentiles were. were cast aside as “uncircumcised heathens.” Those words aren't that big on the schoolyard of rivalries today... but what the word "uncircumcised" bore back then...was the ultimate denouncing of another as completely outside of God. It was a sign of the covenant God had made... of being part of the clean vs. the unclean... of belonging to the people.

And this is what Paul reminded them of, as he now expounds to note what they were without. He notes they were:

Without Christ. ("apart from Christ") Christ was the long awaited Messiah... who God had promised he would send to save he people. He came to the Jews...and at one time... the Gentiles seemed to have no part in God's plan...and no means to God.

Without citizenship. God called the Jews and built them into a nation. They had become the unusual nation who were known for understanding that they were a nation of God's.

Israel was God’s nation, in a way that was not true of any Gentile nation. Now imagine if you were to live amongst them. A Gentile could enter the nation as a proselyte, but they were never seen as the same as true citizens. They were always second class...outsiders.

Many non-European immigrants have felt that way in the United States. Even when there families have lived here for generations...even when they have become equal citizens... the evil of racial superiority will treat one as a second class person who never really belongs. For a Gentile it was far more than this. They were simply not nor ever would be deemed true citizens...and they were openly despised.

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