So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners resident in a land that is not their own, but you are fellow citizens with God’s consecrated people and members of the family of God. It is on the foundation of the prophets and the apostles that you have been built up; and the cornerstone is Christ himself. All the building that is going on is being fitted together in him, and it will go on growing until it becomes a holy temple in the Lord, a temple into which you too are built as part, that you may become the dwelling place of God, through the work of the Spirit.
Oh if only we as a nation could be like what Paul writes about in the above verses. We have been a nation divided for quite awhile now by many issues that without God will never be solved. One good example would the issue of segregation which was addressed in the late fifties and early sixties but damage was deep and could only be reconciled by legislative actions. While things are better now the one glaring lesson learned was that you cannot legislate what is in a persons heart. We still see the distrust and animosity between people and I can’t help but believe that when God is not present in our hearts there is no room for respect or love for others. That brings me to the issue of this day, our southern border and the influx of people illegally entering our country. As a society and a people we try to let this issue slide because there is no other explanation for what they are doing. There are many compelling reasons for it but by law it is illegal, period. It is compelling and begs for something other than just legislation, but the lack of divine wisdom, politics and the desire to prevail make a human solution impossible. John Lennon wrote a song, Imagine and I ask you to do that with me today.
Some theologians believe that this letter, Ephesians, was a circular letter to all of Paul’s Asian churches. It is with certainty that there was a letter circulating among the Asian churches and it is believed that letter was Ephesians. I could stumble through more words but this paragraph from William Barclay’s Daily Bible Study does a much better job.
“Ephesians, as we see it, is the one letter Paul sent to all the eastern churches to tell them that the destined unity of all people and of all things could never be found except in Christ, and to tell them of the supreme task of the Church – that of being Christ’s instrument in the universal reconciliation of all men and women to one another and of their reconciliation to God. That is why Ephesians is the Queen of the Epistles. (DBS Barclay)”
Look at our southern border situation today. As the crisis worsens there, the politicians get louder and different agendas proliferate, the animosity and fervor of the opposing views overpowers humanitarian efforts and reason is no longer at the table. The result is most often we lose all hope of solving this problem. I say again, without God not all things are possible.
The similarities are there so let’s take a look back. Paul was also very good at painting a picture with words. In his day the word for foreigner was “xenoi” and they were in every Greek town. They were disliked and did not have an easy life. They were strangers in a foreign land. The Greek word for stranger was “paroikos”. They were described as a resident alien, one who had taken up residence but had never become a naturalized citizen. These people paid a tax for the privilege of living there. They had one thing in common with the our illegal aliens today. They were never really accepted and were always on the fringe. With all this in mind I ask you to imagine a place with no borders. Within the family of God there are no borders. Through Jesus Christ we have a home with God, there are no borders, come home you are always welcome. It might be a hard stretch to make but please consider this. If God were present in the hearts of those who can make a way here, things would be so much better. We put up barriers, close our minds to anything that might threaten our agendas, even at times refusing to let our own people come to the table of deliberations.
We are the church and Paul saw the church as a building with each of us as a stone, with Christ as the cornerstone that reconciles us to our God. We are many different people with many different ways but our unity in the faith makes us a family, The family of God. There is a lesson here or what I like to call “A God Thing”
Using the church as an example perhaps we would be better off as a nation and avoid such problems if we understood what unity as in the United States could mean. It would not all be about organizations, agendas, political affiliations or even the propagating the views of any body of individuals but just one simple fact. To get back as a nation to God and provide a home with no borders where everyone can dwell in peace, and placing God through Jesus Christ at the table. Maybe we can only imagine because we have allowed our hearts to be harden by the demands of this world.
Yes, it is a stretch….but one can hope. Thanks for coming by the pew this week. I will have some news to share with you next week.
Life is Good