“We Are One”
You know, there are a lot of different jobs out there. There are people who do just about anything you could ever imagine. And of course there are shows to tell us just what some of those jobs are. For some reason, those shows like to dwell on the dirtiest, the hardest, the smelliest, the grossest jobs you could imagine. But you know what? No matter what job you look at, there is someone who loves it more than anything else they could ever be doing.
Earlier this month, a report was released indicating what were the “happiest jobs”. On the list were teachers, psychologists, physical therapists, heavy machinery operators, firefighters all kinds of interesting jobs. Yet, what was at number one?
Yes, it was! Honestly! I know most of my colleagues love their jobs. I know I do. I also know many other people out there who absolutely love what they do to. No matter what kind of job it is.
The secret of happiness isn’t really much of a secret at all. It’s discovering your gifts and using them.
Looking at Ephesians chapter 2 we learn about a source of, well not just happiness, but the source of life.
Paul tells us that in our sins, we’re dead. When we disobey the laws of God, we are nothing but a shell. Lifeless, devoid of hope, lost and alone. Trapped.
We’ve all been there in some fashion. We’ve all had times when we feel like we’re trapped in a hole, stuck in a place where we might never get out. That’s what sin does to us. Sin keeps us apart from God.
It’s not God turning His back on us, but it’s us feeling far too unworthy to even think about God. “I suck, why would God help a useless person like me?” we might ask.
We become dead. Lifeless. Grabbing on to whatever we think we can find to help us. Sometimes it helps, we might reach out and grab the right thing. But there are people out there who reach out and get grabbed themselves, pulled even deeper into sin, even farther from finding God who can help.
That’s how people fall prey to sins like drugs and alcohol abuse. They keep waking up feeling the pain and the guilt for what they have done, or they wake up and realize the world they live in is too painful to bear, and they turn back to the poison which takes away this pain.
This is just but one example. It doesn’t have to be that severe, we can numb ourselves in many ways, trying to ignore the reality around us. Food, television, pornography, relationships, whatever. They all can be used to distract us from the realities we refuse to face. To try and hide the fact that we feel dead. That we feel unloved, or unworthy to be loved.
But we are loved. There are friends and family who love us. There is also an amazing God who loves us. Our God who longs to share His grace and his love with us. Our God, who Paul says starting in verse four, is a God…
“who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” (Eph 2:4-10)
We are created in Christ Jesus.
Through this gift we have been lifted up to heavenly places. This is the mercy, grace and love God shows to us. Even when we’re dead, living in self-pity and sin. Completely unloved and worthless. God shows His mercy upon us in Jesus Christ. God sends us this gift of life.
Paul continues saying,
“So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by those who are called ‘the circumcision’—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.”
Paul tells us it doesn’t matter what your background. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, we belong in together through Jesus Christ. Paul uses the example of “uncircumsized”. Paul is writing to a group of gentiles, people who are not have Jewish heritage.
For ages and ages, those who were not Jewish were told they could not be members of a Jewish religion, the people Paul calls “the circumcision”. Paul himself would have been one of those people, as a devote Jew, Paul would have not associated himself with the gentiles. Yet he has learned otherwise.
God is not for one nation or race. God doesn’t play favourites of one country or another.
He sent Jesus Christ to prove it.
Jesus didn’t come and hang around with a certain elite class of people. Jesus walked the countryside interacting with everyone who came to him. Jesus didn’t choose favourites, he didn’t turn people away because they weren’t from a certain place or look a certain way. Jesus opened the door to everyone. Just the way God wants it to be.
Paul tells his readers they no longer need to feel distant. Just because they have been told for generations they were not worthy of knowing the God of Israel, it doesn’t make it true. That’s not how Jesus acted. That’s not how he treated people. That’s not what he taught.
Jesus came to bring us all back together, to create bond between nations, and to do it by serving our common God, side-by-side.
Jesus unites us all.
It’s a great gift. So even if we look at the other churches in town, and we might look at them and say, “They don’t pray like we do.” Or, “Those songs don’t sound like our songs.” We are still united in Jesus Christ.
It’s a real blessing to meet with the other ministers in town here. We all have a passion for serving God. We know we have theological differences, we believe different things, but we also are very aware that we have one very important thing in common. We live in Christ Jesus and are united under God by him. We are one in Christ.
As Paul tells us at the end of chapter 2, in Christ “the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God.”
There’s so much division in the world right now. People at war. Political parties attacking one another. Countries arguing over debt levels. Rich people not willing to give up things to help the poor. It’s a sad world we live in.
But Christ has come and is working within the church that he has built. He came and he showed us how we are to live with respect to one another and with the world around us. Jesus came to unite a divided world.
We have the gifts to help make this happen. We are able to help make a difference in the world as only God can, through the power of Jesus Christ which was shown and shared with us in his life, death and resurrection.
God’s great mercy, grace and love have been shared with us through Jesus Christ His son. So that we might be reunited with one another and with God Himself.
Jesus Christ is our cornerstone. The one rock on which we build our church, to serve as a beacon of hope in a world lost in sin. A foundation from which to work from so that others can know they too are loved and shown grace and mercy by our common God through Jesus Christ.
We are brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. We are a family of faith working together to share the gifts we have been given so that others can join God’s family and learn about this great blessing we share, and how these gifts can be used to continue sharing the joy we know in the grace, love and mercy we have already received.
We are one. We are united in this blessing from God.
Let’s share it. Let’s help others come to know this God who brings us all to Him through the example of Jesus Christ, our Lord.