Read Ephesians 2:11-18
Last Monday we learned through Paul's letter to the Ephesians who we are in Christ and that trying to "work" our way into heaven is a futile task, for our salvation is secured through faith and God's grace alone, not by works.
Paul has driven home the point to the Ephesians who they were in Christ and who they are now. He calls them Gentiles, which in the Old Testament meant anyone who was not Jewish. Which, by implication, meant they were a heathen or pagan nation who did not worship the one true God. Paul used the term "Gentile" with the Ephesians to distinguish between Jews who had converted to Christianity and pagans who had converted to Christianity. It was the pagans (Gentiles) who had the hardest time believing that God would just accept them without them doing something in return. After Paulmakes it clear they were saved through faith he then goes on to remind them how both Jews and Christians are now united because of Jesus.
Paul explains that the promises of the covenant God made with the Jews, now also, because of Jesus, were promises extended to Gentiles as well. But, while the Jews were seen as a holy nation, set apart by God as His prized possession (Exodus 19: 5-6) they still had the same problems the Gentiles had - they continually sinned against God. They needed a Saviour! So Jesus became the mediator for both Jew and Gentile. Jesus, as Paul says, broke the dividing wall between the two groups (Ephesians 2:14) so that the two would become one in Him. And it is through Jesus that we are made whole again, reconciled to God and have His Holy Spirit living within us. Through Jesus we all have access to God. And because His Holy Spirit is available to all, we are united as we grow into a kingdom of priests for God. Imagine the possibilities! The world would actually know peace! This is why it is so important for those of us who know Jesus to share Him with as many people as possible. So that His kindgom will come! And we who believe and trust in Jesus Christ will become a holy nation dedicated in service to the one true God. Come Lord Jesus come!
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22, NKJV).
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor,
When Jesus began his famous sermon on the mount, who was he talking to? The Bible says that this sermon was spoken to his followers - in other words - his disciples (Matthew 5:1). These words were geared specifically for those who had given up everything to follow him and they still apply to his followers today.
Jesus calls all his followers to be salt and light to the world. So what does this mean for us today? During Jesus' time most of the salt used in Israel came from the Dead Sea, so it was full of impurities and would lose some of its flavour. But salt had many uses other than flavouring. It acted as a preservative, melted ice and was used to heal wounds. So it is a very good description of how the relationship of a believer in Christ should be toward the world.
By using salt as an example, Jesus was telling us that while we, like salt, are full of impurities (sin) we also bring a message that makes life better. However, we are in danger of losing our flavour, the longer we align ourselves with the world's values and beliefs. As disciples of Christ we all have the same mission - to go into all the world and preach the gospel (Mark 16:15). Unfortunately, as the world has progressed and degenerated into apostasy and sexual immorality, some believers have "lost their saltiness", by embracing the world's values and beliefs and forgetting the most important message we have been commissioned to share - that Jesus died for our sins, was buried and rose again, in order that all those in the world who accepted Him, would not perish (be eternally separated from God), but would receive everlasting life. This should be our main focus and message in this world. If we stop sharing this message we lose our flavour and will be "good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men."
We are also called to be a light to the world. We are not to hide that light (our belief that Jesus is Lord and Saviour), but to share it with EVERYONE. This can be a scary thing in an age where Christians are no longer tolerated. But guess what? Christians have not been tolerated since the church began! They have been persecuted since the beginning and will continue to be persecuted until Jesus comes again.
This love and concern that drives the Christian message has been strong since the church began. It is why Antipas, whom Jesus speaks of in Revelation 2:13, was slowly roasted to death inside the statue of a bronze bull, the symbol and companion of Zeus. This happened in Pergamum, which according to Jesus, "was the city where Satan lived." Antipas went to be a light in the darkness and was killed for it. It is why the Apostle John was boiled in oil, survived and was exiled to the island of Patmos. It is why the Apostle Peter was crucified upside down on a cross. This message of salvation in Jesus Christ has driven every Christian since the church began. It is why we risk death - so that no one should perish and be eternally separated from God.
The irony of course is that this message of light, love and life we are preaching, is not a message this world wants to hear. Instead, we are called intolerant bigots. Why? Because we are called to be salt (which can sting) and light (which exposes the darkness) in a world that is without morals, filled with darkness and given over to their sin nature. So how do we share the message of Jesus and be salt and light in a world that is intolerant to our message?
We feed the homeless, care for the poor, visit the sick in hospital, or do something in our communities that would bring joy to others and show the love of Christ. So that when someone asks you why you do these things you will be able to say without fear, I do it because of Jesus. That is being a light, and it is in accordance with what Jesus commanded us, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
Today is Monday Meditations – Please link your faith-based posts below.
Let's encourage one another. Don't forget to visit those who post.
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
As I was thinking about the above verse today I was reminded how some people behave once they come to know Jesus as their Saviour. We are trying so hard to "get it right" and to not fail in our walk with God that we unintentionally assume an air of self-righteousness. We don't think we are superior in any way to those who don't have a relationship with God. However, to those on the outside looking in, our striving to deny ourselves and follow Christ, might give them the impression one has to be perfect to be able to approach God. They don't understand that we are sinners saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) and our desire to live a holy life comes only from our thankfulness at being saved in the first place. We want to please the Lord by making sure we do not bring shame to His name. But sometimes, it has the reverse effect.
I can remember back in the 70's, singing at the Yonge St. Mission in Toronto. At that time it was called Evergreen and operated as a coffee house where many Christian bands or soloists would come in for the evening and perform. One night while I was singing, a young woman came in and sat down at a table right in front of the stage. I should point out that singing at Evergreen could at times be dangerous. Drug addicts would often come in and you never knew what they would do. So volunteers were always at the ready should someone be difficult. This young woman was clearly stoned when she sat in front of me, but she was also clearly in need of God's love. At one point she laughed out loud and said, "Jesus isn't for someone like me. I'm too far gone." I looked at her from the stage and told her that no one is too far gone and that Jesus loved her just the way she was. She then said something that shocked me and has stuck with me for years, "Lady, you don't know what you're talking about. I'll bet you've never even sinned." I was floored. Was that the impression people were getting from me now? That I was perfect? I wanted to get off the stage and sit and talk with her for the rest of the evening. Instead, I told her that I was someone who had been changed only because of God's grace. That I used to be like her, in a bad place, far away from God. But she didn't believe me. She said, "Lady, you have never been as sinful as me." I found out later that she had been coming in regularly and that many of the counsellors available had talked to her about Jesus. But she was convinced that because she was a drug addict and a prostitute God would never love someone like her. She believed she had no hope because she was under the mistaken impression that she had to change first and then come to God.
Sadly, I believe many people think that same way today and this post is for them. Jesus died on the cross for you and me, He did it knowing we are sinners. He never said, "Change first and then come to me." He said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).
YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE PERFECT FIRST!
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