Ephesians 2 The Message (MSG)
He Tore Down the Wall
1-6 It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.
7-10 Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.
11-13 But don’t take any of this for granted. It was only yesterday that you outsiders to God’s ways had no idea of any of this, didn’t know the first thing about the way God works, hadn’t the faintest idea of Christ. You knew nothing of that rich history of God’s covenants and promises in Israel, hadn’t a clue about what God was doing in the world at large. Now because of Christ—dying that death, shedding that blood—you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything.
14-15 The Messiah has made things up between us so that we’re now together on this, both non-Jewish outsiders and Jewish insiders. He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance. He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped. Then he started over. Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody.
16-18 Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. 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.
19-22 That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. 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. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.
Family = Complicated
We love them, but sometimes, sadly, we just don’t like them. We share so much…bathrooms, vacations and our lives with them, but often our relationship with them takes a lot of words to explain. In my experience, there are a lot of regrets and desires for do-overs mixed with my feelings of love. Can you relate?
When we read scripture we meet people who make our family dramas feel almost normal by comparison. We meet a mother who schemes with her son to steal his brother’s inheritance (Genesis 27), daughters who trick their fathers (Genesis 19:30-38) and brothers who sell their brother into slavery (Genesis 37:18-36). People, there’s no drama you and your family have been a party to that can outmatch what we read in God’s word. Insanity. Bonkers.
But here is the hope: regardless of how much your family puts the “fun” in “dysfunctional,” when you accepted Christ as your savior, Christ brought you into a new understanding of family through His death on the cross. Your spiritual family is commanded to love, encourage and support each other through every challenge that we face. And while your spiritual family is made up of broken people too, just like your earthly family, there is a huge difference. In your spiritual family, righteousness abounds and grace is practiced daily. There is a conscious, Holy Spirit-driven effort to move away from self-focus… self-interest, self-promotion, plain everyday selfishness…to focus on God and focus on the Cross. Your healthy spiritual family is making every effort to be transformed (Romans 12:1-2) through a relationship with Christ, and no longer be conformed to the worn out, broken down, worthless patterns of this world. Hallelujah!
You can spot these people, not only in church but all around you. Just watch for them…the transformers…people who are growing in their knowledge of Christ, know and love God’s Word and who are serving and loving others. You can choose to surround yourself with people who have surrendered to Christ and understand you because they too have chosen to walk the road of transformation with their eyes on the goal…Christ Jesus!
So what can you do to engage with your transformational spiritual family? Consider these options…
- Choose to worship side-by-side with your spiritual family – It’s tempting to stay home and watch church on the small screen, but when you go into a place of worship it isn’t as much about hearing the sermon, but who you are hearing it with. Worship—singing and praising God—takes us out of my “me” frame of mind and forces us to focus on who God is and all He has done for me. Standing with other believers while doing this is powerful. It is cleansing.
- Join a life group and live life together with your spiritual family – Your life group will love you, pray for you, and support you through whatever life brings you…both trials and celebrations. You can pray that God leads you to the right life group and if at first you don’t find the right group, please continue to seek the right life group. I’ve been in some great life groups, and when they are great they are life changing! However, I’ve also been in some life groups that for some reason just didn’t settle. I honestly can’t tell you why it happens…it’s just one of the mysteries of God. I can tell you that once you’ve hit that great life group you will understand why you kept on looking. You’ll constantly praise God that He gave you the fortitude to not settle. A great life group is, well, great!
- Find a mentor or a Bible study buddy from among those you call your spiritual family – If you have read these devotionals before you know that I am a big fan of one-on-one discipleship. Honestly, there’s someone you know right now that is longing for a closer relationship with God and would welcome an invitation from you to go on that search together. Now I’m sure you can think of a million reasons why you can’t find a mentor or Bible study buddy…you’re too busy, you’re too tired, or you’ve already overbooked yourself. Drop an activity. Move things around. Stop making excuses. Pray and ask for God to point you toward a woman you can do life with. If you are making time to have a meal with a friend then it is an easy switch to pick out a Bible study and make it a meal with your friend God and a bonus friend. It truly is unbelievable what a difference this can make in your life.
Seek out and spend time with your spiritual family and please, please, don’t try to go it alone. It is a lie and scheme of Satan to keep you in isolation. Reach out today. Let’s all grow in Christ together. We need each other. There is safety in numbers. There is joy in community. There is comfort and love waiting for you in the loving embrace of God’s family. Come.
Heavenly Father, lead me to spiritually healthy people who I can do life with. Point me to women who will love me, not judge me. I’m tired of feeling lonely and walking this path by myself. Teach me. Help me. I desire deep relationships with people who will accept me as I am, with grace, and help me to grow into the kind of woman that you want me to be. In Jesus precious name I pray these things, believing that whatever I ask in his name will be done. Amen.
You might be afraid to reach out because you’ve been bruised by broken people living in a broken world. Watch Fear is a Liar, then ask God to help you move from that place of hurt and isolation into a new room of understanding. Reach up and then reach out.
Today’s post was written by Cindy Koopmans.
Cindy is married to her college sweetheart, Brian, for 38 years. She has three grown boys, two sweet daughters-in-law and a gorgeous little grand-man named Oliver Brian. Cindy teaches fifth grade at Sorrento Elementary and serves at the Mount Dora campus as their Worship Coordinator. Cindy’s passion is music, so her happy place is on the keyboard. She also enjoys reading (so many books, so little time), thrifting, and hanging out with Kramer the wonder Bichon. You can find her on Sunday mornings worshiping at our Real Life Mount Dora campus.