Summary: God is in the business of reconciing people to people and people to Himself.
Title: Reconciliation: From Outsiders to Insiders
Text: Ephesians 2:11-22
Thesis: God is in the business of reconciling people to people and people to himself.
It is not as though we are uninformed and unaware of the evil in our world. It is kind of like the Whack-a-Mole Game… evil pops up here and there. We are not surprised when evil shows its ugly mug. When it pops up we take a little hammer and try to smack it down with a call for people to be nice, reminders of acceptable social behavior, laws and if need be, law enforcement and consequences for unacceptable behavior. Sometimes we will even go to war in the face of evil. The game is marathon in nature and we never seem to get rid of the little imps. Then in the middle of our little Whack-a-Mole Game one of the little moles pops out of his hole and smacks us on the head with his own hammer. And we are reminded that there are some really bad people doing some really bad things in the world. Generally evil elicits little more than a yawn but sometimes we see it for what it really is and we gasp in shock.
While God is always good… people are not! Our text today details the difference between the people of God and those who are not.
Our text speaks of those who are far from God as outsiders. It is not God’s desire for anyone to be consciously or unconsciously outside of God’s transforming grace but, they are, as we once were.
I. The making of outsiders
Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders… Ephesians 2:11-12
Ephesians 2 contains two before and after or as the NIV Application Commentary puts it, “formerly – now contrasts” that describe how the people in the church at Ephesus were before they came to Christ and then after they became followers of Christ.
The first is found in Ephesians 2:1-3 deals with sin and disobedience to God:
Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil – the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God…
The second begins with our text today, Ephesians 2:11-13, deals with deprivation resulting from division and alienation:
Therefore remember or don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision (and no better off). 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 promise God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus…
The context suggests distance and disadvantage. They were:
• Outsiders, V. 11, i.e., they were marginalized
• Called “uncircumcised heathens,” V. 12
• Apart or separated from Christ, V. 12, i.e., they had no savior or messianic hope
• Aliens or excluded from citizenship, V. 12,l i.e., they had not claim to Israel’s status as the people of God
• Without / No hope, V. 12, i.e., no hope of escaping the human plight. Ref. “We do not want you to grieve as those who have no hope.” *I Thessalonians 4:13
• Without God, V. 12, i.e., this does not mean they were forsaken by God but were ignorant of God and lived contrary to God’s will
Verses 11 and 12 are designed to emphasize just how spiritually pathetic and pitiable people are before they become followers of Christ.
God is not asking us to do anything other than simply remember when we were not Christians and what we were without Christ.
In verses 1 – 2 God asks that we remember what we did or how we lived before we became Christians. When we think of our “pre-Christ” days we think about our sinfulness and disobedience to God. But in verses 11 – 12 we are not being asked to remember how sinful we were, we are being asked to remember our spiritual status or position.
When we are asked to think of our “pre-Christ” days in terms of our sinfulness, some of us look back with considerable regret. Some of us know something of the depths to which we can sink. But others of us look back knowing we were and are sinners, theologically speaking, but we aren’t all that bad in comparison to what we know other people have done. Sure, we may have been less than truthful or entertained an impure thought on occasion or gossiped a bit or felt a tad self-righteous and judgmental but our sins pale in comparison to the sins of others. Today we may readily compare ourselves to James Holmes. So we may be incapable of understanding the depths of spiritual deadness caused by sin and disobedience.