Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Running Forward Not Stepping Backward

Good morning friends. I hope you have woken this morning with his sweet name on your lips even before you had a chance to consider your thoughts for today. May he be your all-in-all today. We are continuing with Ephesians 2.

It is interesting that we should be looking at verses 11 to 22 today. It was just last night that I was making comment to some people how much it disturbs me to see Christians practically worshipping the Jews. I agree with the apostle Paul that we must be careful not to allow our favoured position to breed arrogance. We understand from Scripture that God used the Jew's rejection of Jesus to bring the Gentiles into the Kingdom and a time is coming when the Jews will turn back to him. We also know that we owe a lot to their forefathers who have become our forefathers. But the fact remains that without Christ they are lost.

Christians go crazy over all things Jewish. They have been using the various tools that God gave the Jews to remember and to help them stay focused on him. But the truth of the matter is that they did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit to remind them and to convict them. We do not need these tools because we have something better; we have God himself living in us. They had the Arc of the Covenant as a reminder that God was with them. We have the Holy Spirit in us 24/7. We have the fulfillment of all the prophecies, what the prophets longed to see and be part of. Why would we want to trade it in for something less?

Paul writes in this part of the letter that Jesus brought us, who were far away, close to God just as the Jews were close to God. Read and understand that an incredible thing of grace was done for us:

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)— 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. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. vs.11-13

I find it disturbing that Christians insist on circumcision of their boys for religious reasons and that some people insist on the use of prayer shawls and other various symbols of things that we now possess by the blood of Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We are falling back into a place of the law instead running forward into grace. Come on people, understand what we have, and what Jesus has done:

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 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, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. vs. 14-18

The old has gone and the new has come. Jesus has done a new thing. We are no longer dependent on anything in the flesh to draw us to God because through Jesus we are a spiritual being. The Church is the new thing. The Church is the new city on the hill. The Church is the people of God built together, Jew and Gentile, one and the same, the sons of God:

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. vs. 19-22

There is no advantage in trying to do all things Jewish. It is not going to give you a better walk with God or any closer feeling. We have something better than symbols, we have God himself in us. If we want to be closer to him then we simply need to desire him more. You want to experience more of his love? Just ask. You want to have greater revelation? Just ask. We are his holy temple, all of us. Jesus has done an incredible thing. Do not cheapen it, rejoice in it. Some day our Jewish brothers and sisters will also discover this new thing and will join us here and will discover this truth:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

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