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Summary: As we look at our church, our community and as we look beyond at the culture and nation in which we live a couple of questions come to my mind that relate to our church family. [1] Are we really a family? [2] An even more telling question: Do we even want

LIVING IN CHRIST – We’re Family!

Ephesians 2:11-22 NIV

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. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's 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.

INTRODUCTION:

Here at Praise we have a simple statement that sums up who we are and what we are about: WE’RE FAMILY—CONNECT, GROW AND SERVE WITH US. As we look at our church, our community and as we look beyond at the culture and nation in which we live a couple of questions come to my mind that relate to our church family. [1] Are we really a family? [2] An even more telling question: Do we even want to be a part of a family?

I. A Broken and Dysfunctional Family

1. “In the flesh” we are separated from God and one another.

a) We are separated from each other. “In the flesh” prejudice and conflict are inevitable (“sarx”—by birth, in the body).

Ephesians 2:11, 12 RSV

11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, [by birth] called the uncircumcision by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh [in the body] by hands – 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel [excluded from citizenship], and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

b) Family may not be the prettiest picture for many of us. We live among broken and dysfunctional families that are a vivid picture of our separation and alienation from one another and from God.

ILLUSTRATION: Tell the story of the Ebie family tree—this was not a family that you would want to be born into, and yet this was my Dad’s family. Would this be his legacy for his family as well?

2. The human family is not only broken—IT WAS WITHOUT HOPE.

a) REMEMBER we were also separated from Christ (foreigners, outside the covenant, without hope).

b) Without hope: No expectation that even God would work in their lives.

Jeremiah 31:31-34 NIV

31 "The time is coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the Lord. 33 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the Lord. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the Lord. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."

c) God had appointed Jeremiah as a prophet “to the nations” even before he was born. But Jeremiah did not offer hope to the Gentile nations that anything would change—they only hope of a new covenant was for Israel. The only hope for the nations to be blessed was through Israel, but this hope was lost for just as Jeremiah prophesied judgment upon Israel so to he declared destruction upon the nations. And Israel would rather focus upon the demise of their enemies than share any hope that God would intervene in their lives.

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