Tonight I’m talking tonight about, we’re talking tonight about being an outsider, being uncomfortable, being a little how shall be say, feeling like a stranger, feeling like things just aren’t good or easy or something like that.
Now, has anyone in here ever been a foreigner? I don’t think anyone here’s ever been a foreigner. You’ve been a foreigner. Maybe you grew in another country and you came to the United States at a certain age. So do you remember what it was like when you first came here? Do you remember how hard it was to maybe learn a new language or adapt to the culture? Or maybe if you were here with your parents, it might have been easier, but if you came here and you had to learn how to eat this food that the Americans eat all the time, it’s not just as good as the fridge you have back home, right? And it was kind of hard to get used to that.
Or maybe you were born here in the States but you’re kind of ……. two cultures. We have a lot here that grew up,… they’re Latinos but they grew up in the United States and so they kind of have to walk in two worlds. I don’t know if Françoise from Haiti did the same thing. Walk in two worlds. And you may have felt a time when… you know, sometimes I don’t really feel like I fit into either one. You know, there is times when I struggle to make my two worlds come together. Because, you are, you’re living in two worlds and two cultures with two types of influences that pull you in different directions sometimes.
Now, maybe there’s others of you who grew up in the United States and you’re of one culture, so to speak, but imagine and think about the times that you traveled, that you’ve gone to another country. You know what it was like to not understand what is going on around you, to not understand the culture very well, to make mistakes because you just don’t feel like you fit in.
Or if you’ve never traveled outside the country, then maybe it’s something as simple as starting a new school and you’re the outsider, or moving to a new city. You don’t know anyone, you’re trying to make friends.
Well, this idea of being an outsider and a foreigner, officially we call them aliens in the sense that’s someone from the outside. That’s what the passage we’re going to look at tonight starts talking about. Because really what’s going on is when we look in Ephesians, this is where we are tonight, Ephesians chapter 2, we’re going to see that in the early church that’s exactly what it felt like if you were not a Jew. You felt like an outsider or an alien.
You see, most of the early church members were Jewish, but little by little, sure enough more and more non Jews, we call them gentiles, came to the church. And what happened is that they felt like outsiders. For so long there had been this separation between the Jews and the gentiles. For so long there had been a wall dividing these two people so they couldn’t eat together, they couldn’t marry each other, they didn’t want to live next to each other. In fact, to a Jew even being in contact with a non Jew made you dirty or unclean. Dirty is kind of a simple way of thinking about it, but that’s the idea, that there’s just no connection between these two groups of people and then all of a sudden, when the church starts to be built all these different people who never talked to each other, who never ate with each other, who never communicated with one another, were together. And so we have to wonder how was that possible?
The passage of tonight, that we’re going to look at kind of gives us a glimpse of that but we’re also going to see a little bit about what it means for us as a church today.
Turn with me to Ephesians 2 verse 19 through 22 and we’re also have it up here on the screen and this is not the NIV again, I apologize for those who have the NIV but this is the translation, the version that we’re going to be using tonight. So, let’s read it together and I’m actually going to read it twice because this thing is really dense. I think I read it…. I was reading it to Sonia, my wife and she said ‘you know, by the time you get to end you forgot where it started. So I am going to read it twice and I’m going to leave it up there so you can keep looking at it because it’s really thick. So, let’s read the word of the Lord.
“… So then, you are no longer sojourners and aliens but are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God which is built on the foundations of the Apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself being the corner stone. In him the whole building is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him also you are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the spirit.”
Now, I’ll read it again. I’m going to read it twice because this is really dense, it’s really thick. It’s kind of tough. You’ve got to think about it, so let’s concentrate. I’m going to concentrate with you because I have to. Let’s look at it again.
“… So then, -he’s been talking about how there is this great divide Jews and gentiles and how they need to be brought together in the church. It says: “….. So then, you are no longer sojourners and aliens but are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God which is built on the foundations of the Apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself being the corner stone. In him, in Christ, the whole building is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him also you are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the spirit.”
Now, as you thought back or as I asked you about being a foreigner, an alien, just think back to those emotions you felt, the difficulties you encountered and there’s also the joys of triumph when you learn a new language and when you understand a culture better for the first time. There’s those things too, but think about the difficulties that are involved in being an outsider in a new culture.
This is what it was like for the gentiles coming into the church as I said, they were outsiders. Most of the members of the church, the body of Christ were Jewish and they were a different culture. They were separated. But through Christ, as we’ve been talking about these last few weeks and months, Jesus Christ broke down the dividing wall between the Jews and gentiles. He made it possible for these two different people to come together and be one people.
You see, to come into the church at that time if you were not Jewish, automatically meant that you didn’t feel like you belonged. Now, in our country we have different types of people who come in and you know well about this, we have people who are maybe on a student visa or traveler visa. They come here for a time and then they go back home, or they are supposed to go back home. They don’t always do it, we’re not going to talk about that tonight. And there’s those others who are legal residents, they are not citizens but they are, what do I call them, residents, aliens, legal residents, I’m not sure. You get your green card and you can work, and you can go to school, and you can live here and you’re just here. Ok?
Now, that’s well and good. That sounds like a fair deal, you know. If you’re coming from the outside, you’re coming from another country, you get the card and you get to live here, ok? But, you know, it’s really not enough and in many ways there’s been a lot of fighting in this country what to do with all these people who didn’t grow up here, because none of our great, great, great, great grandparents grew up here either, but that’s a… you know, that’s the whole point. So what do we do?
But Jesus says, ‘you’re not just going to be you know, student visa people. You’re not just going to be allowed in the church for a time and then if things don’t work out we’ll kick you out.’ And Jesus also says ‘you know, you’re not going to be resident, permanent residents either. It’s not like you get to live here, and no one is going to bother you and that’s the extend of it.’
What he’s saying is ‘you’re fully welcomed into this body. You get the voting rights, you get the full privileges of a citizen’. And when Jesus was able to do that, to break that wall done and make gentiles full citizens in the body of Christ, it created a unity.
And you see, just very simply when Jesus did that he was stating that there’s just no room in the church for racial divisions, there’s just no room in the church cultural divides that separate people, there’s no room in the church for social divisions, economic divisions and I might add there’s no room in the church for coolness divisions. You know, sometimes we look around and we say ‘ah, I’m really glad that cool person is here’. And that cool person ‘oh, I don’t really hang out with that guy’. So there’s a division in the body of Christ because you don’t want to hang out with me. Right? and I’m saying, ‘please, hang out with me, there’s no coolness division in the body of Christ’.
And that’s something you know, I really think I’ve been in churches where people who don’t fit anywhere else fit in at that church. I think Lion of Judah can be one of those churches and I’m really proud of that, because that’s living out part of this mandate of Jesus breaking down the dividing wall.
But it doesn’t just break down this divide, there is kind of this interesting thing going on where Jesus the way he does this is by making people a member of the household of God. Now, Paul actually mixes his metaphors which, you know, I really don’t like that, but he does it. He mixes his metaphors like three or four times. He says ‘you’re part of the household’, which we would say ok, that’s your family, right? your household. And then he says ‘I’m building this household’, like a building, ok? So now the household is the actual physical house. But what Paul says going on here is that Jesus is actually our God is actually building the church as a house and it’s a metaphor for the church and so that’s what we want to look at now.
The church is being built just like a building and just like you wouldn’t start with the roof of the building and then build the second floor and then build the first floor and then the foundation. The same way God starts with the foundation. And he says that the foundation is the prophets and apostles.
So, it’s interesting. Some people have actually questioned whether what’s going on here is that gentiles are being brought into Judaism, this old system that’s been in place for thousands of years before the church existed. But actually the foundation is the prophets and the apostles. So he’s very specifically talking about the church.
Now, what’s important about that is that God doesn’t say, you know, he said come in and you’re not just a resident, you’re …. He doesn’t just say, well, ok, you come in and you join them. What he’s saying is everyone comes in and joins me.
There’s a difference there if you can see that it’s not like someone letting you in to their country and they’re still kind of the dominate culture, there’s still this tension going on. Everybody is new. Everybody starts as a foreigner. Everybody starts as an alien. But God builds a new house, a new nation, a new system on the foundation of the Apostles and prophets. Now, that’s powerful. That’s powerful because when that reality is in place again it just breaks down any right of anyone to say ‘look, well we were here first’ or ‘this is ours and you have to do what we do’.
Now, that’s extremely relevant for a church like Lion of Judah. A Latino church in the middle of Boston which by all accounts is a very international multinational city, but still it’s in the United States. And so if you come here from another country and you are going to church you don’t have to feel like ‘I have to fit in with whatever everything else is going on here’. And that’s really good because we probably don’t want to fit in there and everything else that’s going on here, because there’s a lot of things going on here that aren’t that great. But, more importantly is just this continuing idea that everyone is a full citizen, everyone is equal, everyone has the same value as everyone else, to come in and be a part of something.
So, we’re not joining them, everyone is joining Christ. So God is building that building and Jesus is the cornerstone. Now, we all know what a foundation is in our day and age we lay a foundation of concrete and steel, but in that day they used foundations of stones and the cornerstone, which we don’t really use any more, but the cornerstone was the stone in the corner, ok? And what happened was this stone was usually the biggest strongest stone and how it worked was that each of the stones in the foundation were based on the line of the cornerstone, so the cornerstone set the standard for the rest of the foundation. And also in just a way physics works, I don’t even fully understand it, the weight of the whole building within would be focused on that cornerstone. It’s kind of like this when you have two things next to each other, I don’t know if you study physics in high school college. It you push something even if it doesn’t move, it pushes back, it exerts an opposite and equal force. So, if you push on a wall, the wall pushes back. What the cornerstone does it pushes back against everything so that it’s all pushing against each other and it creates a very strong foundation.
And so, what Jesus act says in this sense is he is the cornerstone that’s holding everything together. He lines everything, he makes sure everything is in place. He supports the whole structure. So, really the church is built on the foundation of the Apostles and prophets which in turn are built on the foundation of Jesus. And that’s what’s going on here. Paul saying ‘look, this church is a building, is a house that God is creating on this foundation, which is the Apostles and prophets who are in turn build on the foundation of Jesus Christ, or they’re aligned in Jesus Christ and they are supported by Jesus Christ.
So, if we want to know what we stand on we look to the word and we look at Jesus Christ and we look at the Apostles and prophets. That’s fairly straightforward. But as we go on we find contrary to what some of us may think, we don’t build the house on the foundation of the Apostles and the prophets. We don’t build the house around this cornerstone of Jesus Christ, God does. God is the one that builds his church and I think that it’s very common for us to have the idea that we build the church on this foundation; that it’s our job to come in here, work things up, get things going, get people excited and build a church.
Now, what we’re doing here in this Saturday evening service is in essence building a new church. And I believe God has called us to be a part of that. But we need to remember at all times that God is the one who builds the church. In fact, it says that, in verse 22, “….you are being built together into a dwelling place for God”.
In a sense we are the materials God uses to build the church. Greg, you’re the scaffolding, and Sonia you’re the front porch, I don’t know why, you know, you’re the column over here. You know, we’re each a part of the building, we’re a part of the structure. And so often we do think of this building as the church but we’re the church. This is the church, you are the church. I had a pastor back home who actually would call the church, church. He said ‘listen, church’, and then he’d go on. He said ‘I want to tell you something, church’ and then he would go on. and I thought that was really cool because he reminded us every week that we are the church, because we are the materials that God uses to build this structure, this house, this mix metaphor. We’re the materials.
And another interesting thing. He’s mixed the metaphors and I don’t know what to do with this. I’m having a really hard time with this but, it says “….in him the whole building is joined together and grows into a holy temple”.
So, he’s talking about the Jews and gentiles joined together in one building and then he says “….in him also you the gentiles are being built together into a dwelling place for God”.
So, you’re the gentiles are a house. So now we have one house that’s two houses. And I think basically what the idea is that there’s one big church, you know, every Christian, every believer, everyone who’s been called by God is the church, they’re the building materials for that building. But at the same time there’s all these small groups of people, all these local congregations. You know, for us, Lion of Judah, we’re a church, in fact this service is kind of a little church building that’s next to the big church building. You know, and we’re building a new sanctuary next door eventually and I guess we’re going to have two sanctuaries, so we’re going to have like two churches.
But that’s kind of what it’s like. And in the same way, this church is down the street from another church and all the churches in Boston kind of make up a bigger church of Boston, and all the churches in Boston are part of a larger nation wide church and the global church and the historical church. So I guess, I kind of think of it as a complex, or maybe a big mansion with a bunch of different little houses and wings and additions and things like that.
So, just to recap that. God’s building his house, it’s a church. He’s the one that does the work. He uses you as the material and in some kind of weird mix metaphor kind of way, there’s a bunch of little houses that all make up one big house. Does that make sense? And so what?
So, one more thing and then we’ll get to the so what. The most amazing thing about this house really is who is there. And it’s not a house, again we’re not the people who live in… we’re the members of the household, but once he moves over, we’re not the people who live in the house. The house is built for God to live in. And that’s why he calls it a temple. And if you know anything about the Old Testament temple, you know that the Old Testament temple is a place where God dwells.
You know, as Christians we get very rightly so, we get very proud not in a bad way, but in a good way we have a sense of strength and encouragement from the fact that God lives in us. The Holy Spirit lives in our hearts, in our lives. Jesus, come into my heart, live with me. You know, I have direct access with God because God lives in me. I’m an expression of God in the world because God lives in me.
But one of the things that we don’t talk about a lot is that the church also, the collective group, all of us together are the house in which God lives. So God doesn’t just live in you and live in you, and live in you, he lives in us. And that’s something to keep in mind as we think about what it is to be a church, even now as we’re creating this little church here. What does it mean to be the church is one of the things is that we are as a whole, the dwelling place of God.
And again, if you know anything about the Old Testament temple, you know that everything in there is sanctified. Everything in there is clean, everything in there….. when I say ‘sanctified’, what I really mean is that everything there is set aside for God’s service. Ok?
When you go to the temple in the Old Testament Jerusalem, and you go inside and you see in the outer court there’s this big basin with water and you don’t use that unless you’re doing something for God’s service. And you keep going inside and there’s kind of an outer room, I forget what the name of that room is, but there’s bread there. You don’t touch that bread unless it’s for God’s service, and there’s candles, sticks with candles. You don’t touch those lamps unless it’s for God’s service. And you keep going inside, if you’re very lucky, very fortunate to be the one chosen to go inside and there’s the arc of the covenant and you don’t touch that thing unless it’s for God’s service. Because these things are set apart, they’re sanctified, they’re holy. They’re not for anything else except for God’s service.
Now, that doesn’t mean that someone can’t use them for something that’s other than God’s service. I was actually reading in the book of Chronicles and I know that we all do our devotional reading of the book of Chronicles on a weekly basis, so you’ll remember that in Chronicles there’s this really wicked king and he sets up idols in the temple and he uses the instruments in the temple to worship this idol. In the same way, we can do things that are not in God’s service. But that’s our function. So there’s a difference between our function and our practice and what they had to do, what they did was they got rid of everything that they could rid off and everything else they cleaned and purified and then they could use if for God’s service again.
But I just want to note that fact that the church, if it’s God’s temple, then it has to be sanctified. The church has to be set apart for God’s service and that means as the structure of the church, as the structure of the church that we have to likewise, be set apart for God.
Now, we don’t always do things only for God’s service, but that’s our function. That’s what we’re supposed to do. That’s the standard which has been set even though we don’t need it.
So, now we’ve…. Does this seem dense? I don’t know…. It seems really dense to me. So the question then is, so what? So what? Ok, it sounds like God does everything. God’s the one building. Ok. So what do I do? And supposed you’re sanctified but, you know, so what? Who cares? Or why should I care? And I want to say one thing about why you should care and then I want to say a few things about what you would do because of that.
Now, the first kind of idea about that is, ideas have consequences. I showed to Lia some book the other day that says ‘ideas have consequences’, and it’s about …..this guy wrote a book about the different ideas in our culture that were cropping up in the fifties, and he talked about the consequences of those, the ramifications of those ideas. Every single one of those things has come true since he wrote that book. It’s very interesting to read.
But the point is what you think affects what you do. What you think affects how you live. And so sometime we look at a passage of scripture and we read it and we think ‘mmm, that’s interesting!’ and we don’t see application there. We look at this and we say, ‘ok, it’s not telling me not to sin, it’s not telling me how to worship God, it’s not telling me what to do when I have a test situation. It’s just telling me, ok, so I’m not an alien, I’m a citizen, or a member of God’s household and he’s building me…. Ok, thanks, thanks for the info. But really when you believe that, or when you know that and understand it, it’s going to affect how you act.
And I was even talking with Sonia the other day about sometimes seemingly minor theological points can really affect major role of events. And the example we talked about was the… Think about Israel and Lebanon right now. Some people have a certain view of Israel that says that Israel still owns the land, the promised land. Other people have the view that Israel does not still own the promised land that God doesn’t still demand that Israel owns the promised land. Ok? There’s two different theological view points. There are people that fight, and fight, and fight about this all the time, they argue about it, they search the scriptures, they bring up all these different verses to say why, and everyone else kind of look at them and says ‘why are you wasting your time? Come on, get on with it. Let’s talk about how we get saved and how we live a holy life and then let’s just be friends’. I agree. Let’s talk about how we get saved, talk about holy lives and let’s be friends.
But I want to point out that American policy in Israel has been affected by how presidents view the state of Israel today. The modern state of Israel whether they have a divine right for the land or not determines how US presidents act towards Israel and dramatically affects geopolitical events. And so that’s just one example of how something that seems like it’s kind of irrelevant has major ramifications in our life. And that one’s a big kind of geopolitical matter.
But, there’s all kinds of things. This one is just like it. This is going to have major ramifications on how we live. Now, some, maybe not, whether bombs fall and things like that, but it’s going to affect how you live because how you think affects what you do. So let me just look at a few things that might affect what we do if we had this understanding.
The first is we talked about, God builds the house. So, what I want to say about this is that God builds the house, doesn’t mean, ok, let’s relax and sit in the lounger. God builds the house so don’t force things. God builds the house so don’t get in the way on what God’s doing.
Again, as I said earlier, sometimes we try to whip things up and we try to get things going and we try to force things in a certain direction. But we can’t do that because God’s the one that determines how the house is built. C S Lewis’ famous…. A famous quote of his…. Basically he says, you know, when I became a Christian I invited God into my life, into my house and I asked to tidy things up. So I thought he would come in and straighten the picture frames, and maybe paint the walls and replace this old nasty couch that I had since college. But he didn’t do that. He came in and he started knocking down walls and putting nails in the boards, and he tore things down and constructed things and before I knew it, the house I ended up with was totally different from the house I started with. It wasn’t a house that was tidied up, it was a whole new house.
And that’s,… sometimes we have expectations of what’s God is going to do with our house, we think it’s our house, with our church. This is what our church needs to look like and God said ‘no, I’m doing something here. It’s totally different and I need to knock down this wall so I can build another wall over here that’s better, or maybe it has a pretty arch. Or maybe this wall was separating people and I need to knock it down entirely and just get rid of it. Or maybe the roof you have is fine for now, but in ten years that roof is not going to hold under the storm I know is coming. So I need to build a better roof.’
But that means that it’s going to hurt. That means you have to put a little effort in and you got to get up there and hammer those nails and make sure the shingles are straight and you know, now they have the nail guns but if you’ve ever done it by hand, putting on a new roof is a lot of work and it’s really hot in the summer. You get sun burnt and it’s just no fun. But God says ‘no, I have different plans than you have.’
So since God builds the house we don’t need to get in the way. Now, with that said you need to think of God as a house builder, a little differently than just the guy out there hammering. Now, my sister right now is building a house back in Memphis. She says, ‘oh I’m building a house and the foundation was laid yesterday’. So you know, of course, we all picture her, he’s out there with her boots on, laying out concrete, right? She’s mixing concrete… No, no, she didn’t touch the thing. Someone else built the house but she’s the one who said ‘this is what I want, this is how you do it’.
Now, God’s been a little bit more involved in that. He might be a general contractor. So, you see God’s the one who orchestrates all the building. It’s his, he can do it however he wants. He’s the one that’s got the blueprints but he doesn’t hammer in every nail. He tells us what to do. He kind of hires us out, right? So, he’s hired us to add on a new wing. I think this service is God hiring us out to add a new wing for example.
He’s saying you know, this house is great but it needs a little more space and that space happens on Saturday night, so I need, you, and you, and you…. you know, I’ll pay you, ok, whatever but I need you, and you and you to start building this house. By the way, when I say I’ll pay you, ….not because I’m referring to the pastors who get paid, I’m referring to a lot of people who give their time freely, but God so pays you and God so rewards you.
But he’s calling you to do a job and when you work for God you show up early, you work your tail off and then you say ‘what next, Lord?’. And you know, sometimes we get in the mentality where we come to church, it’s very common here in the United States and other places, you come to church not to do your job, you come to church not to say ‘I’m going to work hard and what’s next, Lord?’, but you come to church to watch. The worship team’s up there. I’m an observer. They are the participants, I’m the observer. Then, the preacher gets up there yackety yak. I listen but I don’t do anything. This isn’t to guilt your intellect getting involved in the committee on something here at the church. What I’m saying is the church is a place for people to be involved in the construction.
Now, of course, again, mixed metaphors, you’re building yourself into a second story, I don’t know how you take your own body and nail it up there. that’s not important. The important thing is you are indeed the material and you are indeed the worker. God calls you to be a worker in his house and I dare say that there’s many of you here who God is calling you to be a worker in this house that he’s building right now. And that is guilt true for you to get into a committee, but…
So God hired you but he’s kind of a general contractor. The other thing we need to remember is that this house is part of a bigger house. Remember I said it’s kind of like a mansion with little houses attached or maybe a complex where there’s people building, there’s building projects going on all the time. I know of a church where they have building projects planned for the next twenty years. And you think ‘guau, they’re growing!’. So they’re growing but it’s kind of like that. We are a little building project in the big building project.
So we need to act like it. If we’re part of something bigger than ourselves, let’s act like it. So, for us in this little Saturday now thing, it’s little now but it’s growing, it’s getting bigger, we need to respect the fact that we’re particular of an even bigger, not because it’s bigger in numbers on Sunday morning than on Saturday’s night, but together we’re part of the bigger thing, something that God’s doing that’s even bigger than just us. And many of you aren’t involved on Sunday morning so you don’t know what’s going on there. And I’m not saying, on Sunday morning, what I’m saying is just realize the fact that we’re part of something bigger.
One of the things I like about this church, Roberto often, who is our head pastor, he’s often incorporating other churches and other pastors and projects that the Lord has called him to. So, the Lord calls him to something and he calls up 50 pastors and they all get involved, so pastors all over the city of Boston are involved in the Lord’s work together. That’s what it means to act out this belief.
Ideas have consequences. If you believe that you’re part of something bigger and it’s not just your little house, you’re part of the neighborhood or the complex or a big mansion or however you want to think it, then you’re going to act like it and that’s one of the examples. So we need to do that and we also need to remember that we’re not the first ones here, we’re not inventing the wheel all over again. There’ve been people doing this for two thousand years. So we need to glean their wisdom and we need to honor and respect them. That’s part of what it means to live out the true present in this passage.
And then the last thing is to realize the real purpose of this house is to be a dwelling place for the Lord all mighty, but this house is a temple to God and I talked about this two weeks ago. You know, why are we here? We’re here to glorify God and one of the ways we glorify God is by housing him in our presence, but God is literally here and he’s literally present with us and he resides in our house.
So, he’s between us, he’s among us, he’s in us, he’s around us because he lives here. This is his place. This where he puts up his feet. This is where he comes home at night, if he were to come home at night. I don’t know what he does at night, but this is his house.
So, ok. Ideas have consequences, so what’s the consequence of that? What’s the ramification of that? The ramification of that is we must live lives of obedience and holiness.
I was talking to someone the other day and he said ‘you know, this ministry was a healing ministry and this ministry was a worship ministry, and this ministry was a holiness ministry. Folks, there is no ministry that is not a holiness ministry. And I’m not saying it to put down a healing ministry or to put down a worship ministry, we have a worship ministry. We hope to have a very strong healing ministry as well. But those things are no ministry without a holiness ministry. That means personal holiness, obedience to the Lord and that means corporate holiness, church holiness and obedience to the Lord.
Now, I dare say that’s a calling that most of us feel very inadequate to fulfill. I know, I thought very inadequate to fulfill a calling of holiness. But that’s what God’s calling me to do and that’s what God’s calling you too. And we don’t talk about it enough. We just don’t, we don’t talk about holiness enough. And it’s not because we don’t have a holiness ministry. You see what I’m getting at, right? Every ministry has to be a holiness ministry because the church is the temple of God, the church is set aside for God, the church must be holy. There’s no two ways around it. It has to be.
So, what does this have to do with me? It’s right there. This is what this passage has to do with you, because you say ‘Stephen, I’m not a gentile, I’m not a Jew, we don’t care about those things any more’. But I say we have to care about that because it teaches us what we need to be as a church. We need to come, we need to have wide open doors to let everyone in as a full citizen of our community. We need to let God direct how we build this house. We need to work our tails off getting the work done, that he’s called us to. And we need to remember that our work is not the only work and then we need to remember that for it to be effective at all, we’ve got to be holy.
There it is. Amen. Let me pray for us and then we’ll continue with a little worship, a little music and singing and praising the Lord for the truth that he’s revealed to us.
Father, the truths you have revealed are stark realities. Father, the truths you have revealed are extremely relevant. Father, sometimes we read over things like this and we just pass right by because they don’t seem to be important and they don’t seem to be practical.
But Father, first of all teach us that there’s nothing in your word that lacks relevance. Lord, genealogists do not lack relevance. Lord, theology does not lack relevance. Father, historical stories do not lack relevance. Lord, you put everything there for a purpose and teach us that and help us to have eyes to see the relevance, to go beyond just what’s written on the page and see what you have to write on our hearts.
And Father, in light of the truth that we’ve heard tonight and that you’ve spoken to us through your word, Father, we ask that you will compel us to act rightly. Father, that you would confirm in us these truths that we might live in light of them and above all, Lord we do pray that you would help us to live lives that are holy and pleasing to you, lives that are honoring to you. Lord, let us be a sanctified church set apart for your service. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.