TRANSFORMED LIFE - Week 5
Belonging to His Family
“In him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Ephesians 2:22
The writer Jeff Lucas described a recent inspiring visit to a church in this way:“I am spending time with an amazing church. The congregation is packed with young people who are sold out for Jesus; their worship is passionate. I find that their commitment really challenges me. Being with them is refreshing and sobering, and I ask myself: is my life still focused on living obediently for the purposes of God.”
The local church can be an amazing, inspiring, praying, worshiping and learning community where people are sold out for Jesus and where people are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. The church also has many faults and failing and like every family we will have times of disagreements as well as times of celebration. The challenge for each of us is to ask ourselves are we passionate about Jesus and his church?
Paul when he wrote the letter to the Ephesians was communicating with local churches - he was emotionally, physically, prayerfully and educationally committed to seeing churches grow in the word of God and in the power of spirit, where followers of Jesus are being built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home. His words and challenge to commitment to belonging to the family of God are equally applicable today. Paul teaches in Ephesians 2:11-22 -
1. In Christ we are RECONCILED WITH GOD.
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household” Ephesians 2:19
It is through the achievements of Christ on the cross that we can be reconciled with God. This is how John Stott described Christ’s victory on the cross:
“1st Christ abolished the law (it’s ceremonial regulations and moral condemnation) as a divisive instrument separating men and women from God and Jews from Gentiles.
2nd Christ created a single new humanity out of its two former deep divisions, making peace between them.
3rd Christ reconciled this new united humanity with God, having killed through the cross all the hostility between us. Christ crucified has thus brought into being nothing less than a new, united human race, united in itself and united to its creator.”
The gospel message is one of reconciliation and peace through Christ, it is His message to the church and through the church it is His message to the world.
2. In Christ we are ADOPTED INTO GOD’S FAMILY.
The great news for us is that we were in God the Father’s heart even before the creation of the world. Ephesians 1:4-6 puts it like this:
“Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) (The Message)
It’s a stunning picture of God delighting in his plan for us to become His sons and daughters. Then in Ephesians 2:17-18 we see that there are no longer outsiders and insiders to the family drawn together by Christ:
“Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father.”
Father God has adopted us into his family and we can enjoy the closest and deepest possible relationship with Him and with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
3. In Christ we are RAISED UP AS GOD’S HOLY TEMPLE.
‘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’ (Ephesians 2:21–22).
Every few weeks we receive an emailed photo of a house that is being built in the Shetland Islands. It is exciting to see the progress as this is going to be the family home for my daughter and her family. We are looking forward to visiting them and experiencing the warmth (Very important with those winds up there) and joy for family times in this new home. Excited as we are about this building project, an every more exciting one is described in Ephesians 2 - “God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together.”
This is the dwelling place of God and his family - the church. Bill Hybels has described the local church as the hope of the world with potential that is more than he can grasp. A place where God’s people are being raised up to worship Him and to bring the hope, light and saving grace of Christ to the world.
As we gather each Sunday, grasp something more of the wonder of the church and of belonging the family of God. These words from Ephesians 2 can encourage us to be more expectant and committed to the church, the family of the Lord.
v13 In Christ you have been brought near to God.
v18 In Christ you have access to the Father by the Spirit.
v19 In Christ you are a fellow citizen with God’s people
v19 In Christ you are a member of his family
v21 In Christ you are being raised up as His holy temple
v22 In Christ you are part of his dwelling place.