Summary: When we are in Christ and Christ is in us, God takes up residence within us.
Title: Where God Lives
Text: Ephesians 2:11-22
Thesis: When we are in Christ, God takes up residence within us.
The United States of America has often been referred to as a “melting pot” where people from many different countries, races, and religions, all hoping to find freedom, new opportunities and a better way of life, can find a home.
Native Americans are the only indigenous people here… the rest of us came from somewhere else. Our ancestors emigrated from somewhere else in order to immigrate here. The first waves of immigrants came from Western Europe so Americans were white people with their Western European ways.
One of our country’s biggest issues, culturally speaking, is thinking of anyone who does not have white skin and a Western European cultural background as “American.” So we sub-categorize people as “Hyphenated Americans.” “African-Americans” or “Asian Americans” or “Middle-Eastern Americans”. “Hispanic or Latino-Americans.” Apparently Americans have a distinct look. Just a couple of years ago the winner of the Miss America Pageant received scathing criticism because she did not look American enough.
It is interesting how we, who are of immigrant heritage, are often anti-immigration. I recently saw a comment to the effect: “My ancestors did not travel 4,000 miles to a place to be over-run by immigrants.”
In truth, whether those of us who came first like it or not, we are all Americans who live together more as a “Tossed Salad” than a “Melting Pot.” Each ingredient adds to and enriches the whole.
Just this morning I thumbed through the Denver and West section of The Denver Post and came upon a news article reporting on the Annual Dragon Boat Festival down at Sloan’s Lake. The bi-line read, “Racing event awash in Asian flavors, colors – with American touches too.” (I’m not sure what American touches are…)
The article cites the purpose of the festival as being an opportunity to bring the Asian community to the spotlight quoting the founder who added, “We’re part of the whole American culture, but today we are still considered foreigners.” The 67 year old woman I just quoted, immigrated from Taiwan when she was in her 20’s.
The United States is in fact the most heterogeneous country in the world and as much as some might wish otherwise, the fact of the matter is simply this… a heterogeneous society will never become a homogeneous society. We Americans are becoming increasingly diverse. We will never all be blond and blue-eyed, favor a meat and potatoes diet, drive General Motors automobiles and shop at IKEA.
It is unfortunate that our differences are not embraced as enriching to the whole rather being the source of alienation.
Perhaps reflecting on the way God deals with alienation will be helpful.
I. We were Alienated, Ephesians 2:11-12
Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. Ephesians 2:11-12
The big thought here is a reminder to remember! Don’t forget!
Memory is the process in which information is received, recorded, stored, and retrieved.
The text reminds us to remember what was received and stored away in our brains. And one of the memories we have is our former sense of alienation.
God’s Word speaks very pointedly to spiritual and relational alienation for both Outsiders and Insiders.
A. Outsiders – Gentiles were considered uncircumcised heathens by the Jewish “Insiders.”
B. Insiders – Jews were proud of their circumcision even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts.
Alienation is a sociological concept that speaks to "how a low degree of integration and a high degree of isolation between individuals alienates people. In our country today one of the alienating factors is how we are stratified socio-economically. The rich become richer, the middle class is disappearing and the poor are becoming poorer. It is this kind of disparity that creates alienation.
The Great Wall of China is a symbol of alienation and isolation. It is a 5,000 mile series of fortifications made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials, generally built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China to protect the Chinese states and empires against the raids and invasions of the various nomadic groups of the Eurasian Steppe.
There were other purposes of the Great Wall which included … that is the control of immigration (people coming in) and emigration (people going out).
The Great Wall of China is a fitting metaphor for the walls people build to keep people in or out. The idea of including some people while excluding others is not the way God thinks.
God’s objective is to be inclusive. Mercy and grace are by design intended to include any and all who wish to follow Jesus. It is not God’s will that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9)