Summary: How can we love each other well? How do we not only tolerate diversity, but celebrate it? How do we not only celebrate it, but pray for more of it – much more than we currently see in our congregation? The answer is in God's word ...
My wife Kristen and I often watch a sitcom on Netflix at the end of a long day. I like Cheers; Kristen likes The Andy Griffith Show. So we compromise on one or the other.
Andy Griffith takes us back to a simple time and an idyllic, small North Carolina community, where people sang country gospel songs on their front porches and the sheriff didn’t carry a gun.
Cheers is set in a bar in Boston, in the late 80s. The jokes are sharper and the people are more sarcastic and narcissistic.
But are these shows so different? They may come from different eras and they may show the contrast between the small town and the big city, but I think a big reason why Cheers and Andy Griffith are successful is that they tap into our longing to belong.
To be loved.
To be at home.
To go “where everybody knows your name.” Where you walk into a room and everyone shouts, “Norm!” (or, you know, whatever your name is).
This longing is ingrained in us from birth. Have you ever played with a baby …
Then fed the baby …
Then held the baby …
Then changed the baby …
Then put the baby to bed, having met all his needs, only to find -- a couple minutes later or even immediately -- a crying baby?
And if the baby is old enough he will even pull up on his crib and hold his arms out to you, as if to say, “Come get me! I want to be with you! Don’t leave me alone!”
Where does this longing come from? It goes all the way back to Genesis. We are made in the image of God, and God has never been lonely.
God has existed from eternity as a perfect, loving community within himself: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So being created in the image of God means, in part, that we were created for community with each other, and with our God.
But early on we learn that community is hard, and for all kinds of reasons, many people don’t want to include us in their community. I remember being in elementary school, and discovering I was on the outs with this group because I wore the wrong clothes, and I was out with that group because I listened to the wrong music.
And once we become adults, sadly, not much changes. Even many churches exclude people who wear the wrong clothes or listen to the wrong music. We know it shouldn’t be this way. We know this isn’t God’s intention. But what is God’s vision for change? How will he bring it to pass? When will he bring it to pass? Where?
Let’s Stand For The Reading Of God’s Word, Eph 2:19:
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
This is the Word of the Lord.
Paul throws a lot of metaphors at us here: we’re citizens, we’re a family, we’re a building, and even a temple. But we shouldn’t rush through this passage. Paul changes metaphors because he wants us to slow down and consider the implications of each one.
(PART ONE) Look at verse 19:
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,
“Consequently,” means “in light of everything I just said,” (last week’s sermon, which Pastor Jonah preached, about being at peace with God and with each other through the blood of His Son).
“Foreigners” and “strangers” were familiar terms to Paul’s audience. Citizens of Ephesus took citizenship seriously. They had rights and privileges that were not extended to non-citizens.
Think of our current immigration crisis. No matter where you stand politically, we can all agree that it’s no fun to be labeled an illegal alien. The label tells people, “You don’t belong. We don’t have room for you.” What they want, more than anything, is to have full rights as citizens. They don’t want our government to send them back!
Paul is saying, because of the blood of the Son, the Father will never send you back! You are a citizen in God’s kingdom.
But then he says something more surprising – mind blowing, even. He calls us members of God’s household! Imagine if our President walked up to an immigrant and said, “I’m not only going to grant you citizenship, but I want you to come live with my family in the White House. I’m even writing you into my will.”