It’s good to see each of you and welcome to our service and I know that the Lord is here and is ready to bless us as he has already done through the worship and through all the things that we are doing. His presence is here and we thank him for the fact that we can come on a Saturday night very intentionally because coming to a service on a Saturday night it requires a decision to come. On Sunday it’s a lot easier to do it, just out of shear inertia, but tonight we’re here because we want to be here and because we know that this is the place where God is going to meet us.
So I welcome you and I invite you to look in your Bibles in the Book of Ephesians, chapter 2 and at this point I don’t know whether Stephen has gone through some of these passages or not in my absence, but I know that I will bring a different perspective or Greg who preached, or Sam, whoever. But you know, it bears, if they have gone through that a different perspective and a different message perhaps, even. So, I’ll just continue.
Last Saturday, those of you who were here, will remember that I read Ephesians chapter 2, verses 11 through 22 and really only stopped to deepen into verses 11 through 13, this call to remember what we were before we were believers. Paul was addressing this to the gentiles, but it really applies to all of us who were without Christ and even when we are Christ, I said, it bears to remember what or to meditate what it would be like if we didn’t have Christ in our lives, what society would be like and in many countries, is like when Christ is not the ruling element, or even when Christ has a general influence, such as in America. We cannot say that America is a Christian nation in the deep sense of the word, but it has been influenced powerfully by Christian values that have been secularized many times and have entered into the general realm, political and otherwise and into the values of the healthcare industry and philanthropy and the treatment of women and the poor and so on and so forth, but it is a very powerful influence that Christianity has had on a country like America, which was a nation that was really strongly Christian despite all its imperfections that it has had, and huge ones of course, politically and otherwise, but…
So, when Paul calls us to remember what life is like without Christ and you know, he speaks about being separate from Christ, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, verse 12, foreigners of the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. We spoke a little bit about what those things mean and how the fact that now, through Jesus the person of Jesus, not some sort of the teachings of Jesus.
I don’t know how many of you, by the way, have seen this course which is called… it’s not even a course, it’s really like a sect, a course in miracles. Anybody heard of that? The course in miracles. I saw one of their DVDs and it was weird, but it’s a different thing altogether. It was, their founder is kind of strange in many ways.
But again you know, when you explore the course in miracles which has a lot of influence in many people, you notice that there’s a lot of things that ring just like Christianity, huge numbers of things. But when you read more, your antenna goes up immediately because you notice that a lot of it is almost an insistence on what you know. It’s on almost like enlightment. It has a lot of eastern elements in it and so you begin to see that almost the …. Welcome, good evening, come on in, please.
You know, you begin to see that really there’s an insistence on right thinking, and right knowledge as opposed to right person. That’s what you notice for example when you see the Christian scientists as well and you know, a lot of sects, they speak about you know, salvation and transformation and victory in life coming through right knowledge: the principles that Jesus taught. That’s what Christian science is all about, teaching the science that Jesus taught and therefore we can have access to the same kind of power, the same kind of healing and the same kind of victory that Jesus had.
But these religions they stress knowledge, just like gnosticism 2000 years ago and a lot of eastern religions, stress knowledge. If you arrive at the right knowledge of the right principles you will live a life that is victorious, that is healthy, that is prosperous, on and on and on.
But you see, what Christianity insists time and time again is that it’s not knowledge that saves you, but Jesus, a relationship with Jesus. You have to sort of plug yourself into Jesus in order to receive the benefits of the Christian life. Now, once you have done that there’s all kinds of wonderful knowledge that is released for you to live upon. But that knowledge really becomes understandable truly and viable and effective when you have the relationship with Jesus, when you have accepted by faith what he says he is, and what he has done. When you do that, then there’s a transaction that takes place in the emotional, spiritual, volitional that is will realm and there’s almost like a chemical reaction that takes place. The Holy Spirit indwells in you and then you can receive the power to live a certain life. The gospel is not about words, says the Apostle Paul, but it’s about power, you see.
So, it’s not about knowledge, head knowledge, it’s about an energy that enters your life through Jesus Christ and this is what the Apostle Paul says. So he says, but now in Christ Jesus, and he repeats that time….
You know, I wish you would do a study of Ephesians and just look at how many times the word ‘in Jesus’, ‘in him’, ‘in Christ’, ‘through Christ’ is expressed over and over and over again. That’s a distinctive element of the Pauline theology: in Christ, through Christ. And you know, it’s almost like a magical power that Jesus has. There’s something about the essence of Jesus that releases energy in men and women.
And so, it’s important that we always remember, it’s in the person of Jesus. And look again now, starting…. I leave it there you see, in other words, through our relationship with Jesus all of these benefits accrued to us and all of these bondages, and all of these negative elements of life without Christ were erased through Christ. And we must remember that.
You know, we cannot become so complacent in the Christian life and so generic in our Christian living, that we forget really what happened at some point when we met Jesus. You know we become so generic in our Christianity that we kind of make Jesus into one of those pictures that we have on the wall that we, it’s been there for 30 years and we don’t even see it any more. We look at it but we don’t see it, because it’s become so much a part of the furniture.
So we must remember. It says, remember that formerly you, who were gentiles and so on and so forth … now, in verse 14 I think he goes into another dimension of this. You know, he’s sort of elaborating on what he has just said generally. He begins to elaborate and as he always has wanted to do, the Apostle Paul, as a good theologian and he develops further that thought, and he says:
“…for he himself –you see there again, the insistence in Jesus- for he himself is our peace who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing –where?, in our thinking and in all the knowledge that he released and all the theological implications of his thought system? No…- … by abolishing in his flesh….”
That’s why people don’t like Christianity many times because it speaks about blood and about flesh, you know, and to the modern mind that sounds so, I don’t know, yaky. It doesn’t sound sophisticated enough. But the truth is that something happened through the flesh of Christ, through the blood of Christ, and that’s what we celebrate in communion, that symbolism. I mean it wasn’t done by anything except the shedding of his blood and the breaking of his flesh. There was a payment that was made through that.
And so Paul insists and we cannot, you know, I can’t be more elegant than the word of God. I’m sorry. I cannot be more sophisticated than the Bible, so I have to use the same symbols that the Bible says that were the powerful things. And you know, as I said before, demons know that. You know, in deliverance sessions that I’ve been part of many throughout the years, I can tell you with absolute certainty that demons fear the blood of Christ, the mention of the blood of Christ and the mention of the name of Christ, and they know who defeated them and how he defeated them.
So, we need to understand that, you know, I mean, modern man has become very sophisticated, and you know, psychology oriented and scientifically oriented and things that somehow he has transcended or gone beyond these mysteries of the human condition or the spiritual realm. But no, the spiritual realm doesn’t know about science or about man going to the moon or anything like that. The spiritual realm is eternal and with the scientific realm is simply a superstructure imposed upon the infrastructure of spiritual reality that never changes.
You know, the outward apparatus can change but the spiritual reality is eternal. And so, these thoughts of flesh and blood and the name of Jesus, the authority of Jesus, these are the keys that open the spiritual world, that’s the currency under which the spiritual world operates. So, we do well to retain that and to live by that, and to use that currency when we enter the spiritual realm. You cannot enter the spiritual realm with high lofty thoughts and great knowledge and sophisticated thinking. It won’t get you anywhere, except to disaster.
So, you know, each realm demands its own instruments and wise is the man or woman who can navigate different realms: the scientific realm, the artistic realm, the spiritual realm each one of them has its own language and its own currency.
Anyway, he says, “…for he himself is our peace, who has made the two one, has destroyed the barrier by abolishing in his flesh the law with his commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross by which he put to death their hostility…”
Does that sound. .. I mean unless you really initiated into the language of scripture, that sounds like, gobbledygook, or something like that. It sounds like, you know, algebra or you know, physics. But, I hope to unpack a little bit of that. That’s the wonderful thing about scripture, once you know certain concepts you can navigate. I mean, this is a closed universe just like any other. I mean, once you learn certain things, that’s why it’s so important to learn the language of the scriptures so that you can move through the different avenues.
And he says, “…..he came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near for through him, again, the insistence on the personal ministry of Jesus, through him we both have access to the father by one spirit”.
Ok, let me leave it there, because the rest you know, will continue the same thought, and I want to be able to at least develop this.
You know, what strikes me here again is this concept of peace and of reconciliation through Jesus Christ. You know, what is Paul speaking about? He is speaking about the fact that before Christ the world was in fact divided. I mean, in an almost anthological way, to use a fancy word. It was in essence divided and there was nothing that we could do about it. There were these huge divisions in the world and in humankind that kept men inevitably and irremediably separated from a each other. There was nothing that could be done about it.
But when Christ came and died on the cross and paid our debt before God, and took upon himself the consequences of our own sins, Christ released in the spiritual realm and even in the material realm, in the cosmos, he released certain grace that healed potentially the cosmos and healed potentially human beings and the races, and the genders and everything, by paying the debt. He kind of in potentiality closed the wound of the fall and then released the possibility of healing in all those different realms through himself.
So that when we receive Christ and we bring him into our life, now we are empowered to live life beyond the fall, as much as it is possible as human beings here on earth. I’ll unpack that even in a little bit more. But what Christ did was, I mean, he made possible for human beings and for the races to be harmonized and to be reconciled with each other.
And, you know, that has huge implications because, you know, I really want to speak about …. After I unpack a little bit more, what are the ethical implications of that fact. I mean, how shall we then live, in other words, as I was saying, God’s holiness… we declare God’s holiness but in our singing but it also has ethical implications for the way we live. And in that same way the fact that Christ is a harmonizing, unifying, reconciling element in the universe has implications as to how we need to live our lives and our relationships one to another. That’s very important, I hope at least to develop that thought a little bit more.
But look again at this idea, you know, God is our peace, Jesus is our peace. I mean, he is peace. Just like God is love, he’s also peace. I mean, Jesus is our peace. Through Jesus Christ we can have peace inside ourselves, our emotions can be reconciled.
How many of us are dividing in our thinking, in our emotions, we’re torn. That was the consequence of the fall and we have war between the genders, male and female, they struggle like sumo wrestlers trying to pin each other down, you know, manipulating and fighting each other, and oppressing each other. Men among themselves, war and oppression, all kinds of divisions. But Jesus becomes the unifying element. He makes peace possible.
And you know, he does that through two things. You know, he says, “….he made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility”.
You know, Paul is latching on to a very powerful, graphic image of how Jesus does what he did. You know, he is alluding and referring to that wall that was in the temple. The temple was full of walls, I mean, in the times of Paul and of Jesus. You know, there was all kinds of walls. From what I have read many times when you enter the realm of the temple, there was one area which is called ‘the court of the gentiles’, in that court, anybody could enter. It could be Greek or Roman, or Jews, or whatever and you could be in that area, in that territory of the temple and it was fine. But then, there was a point at which there was a wall, and I understand it was made of very fine marble, it was like a screen very beautiful, very elaborate, which divided, at that point, if you were not a Jew, you could not go beyond that point. And I mean, they were so clear, actually a tablet was found emphasizing what Josephus had said about that place. You know, it says, if you enter that side you were dead meat. If they caught you going beyond that court of the gentiles, and you were not a Jew, you were liable to be killed and torn to pieces. Actually, Paul ended up prisoner because they accused him of bringing in a gentile into that area illegally, and they wanted to kill him.
And so, there was a wall there that divided gentiles from Jews. And then you know, not only that when you enter that other area, there was the court of the women, that women could be in, Jewish women. But beyond that, there was the court of the Jewish men, only the men could enter. You know, sort of degrees of humanity, if you will, according to the Jews.
So, there was this court only the Jewish men could enter and then you know, there was the other side which is the court of the sacrifices and so on, and then you entered into the temple itself. There was the holy place where the priests celebrated certain kinds of ceremony and then, there was another dividing veil, that divided the holy place from the holy of holies, which is even more sacred and more intimate, and more exclusive.
So, you see there was these dividing things. But the most dramatic one was that wall that divided Jews from gentiles, and so Paul is using that image. And he says, you know, that Jesus tore down, he has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. Jews and gentiles hated each other. The Jews particularly felt so superior and despised the gentiles.
And you know, as one writer that I was reading says, the gentile world was full of its own walls. You know, the Greeks thought that they were superior themselves because of their culture and their science and their philosophy and the refinement and they spoke of everyone else as barbarians. Anybody who did not speak Greek was a barbarian, to be looked at and despised and denigrated.
So, you know, you see these walls of hostility, the dividing walls, these divisions among the races, and that is the way the world is when Christ does not reign, when the spirit of Christ does not control and penetrate into the values of a culture, of a society or of a world even, of an age, that’s what you have. You have division, you have strive, you have killing, you have destruction.
What do you see today in our time? You know, this world that is so resistant to the gospel, what do you see? You know, actually two walls are threatening the world. One you know, has come up recently in Israel, dividing the Palestinians from the Jews. You know, it’s like a wound right through the land of Israel.
Another wall came down just a few years ago, the Berlin wall dividing Eastern Germany from West Germany. And now, the United States is threatening to put up its own wall to keep immigrants from Latin America out, and to protect its own borders.
So you see this coming up of walls. And then there are other walls that have come up in a powerful sort of ways: Islam has raised huge wall with its fundamentalism.
As a matter of fact one of the great historians of our time, I don’t remember his name right now, Samuel Huntington, Harvard, professor, one of the most powerful influential books that has come out recently is, and I don’t remember the name right now, ‘the clash of civilizations’, they keep coming back slowly into my mind. And I’ve read some parts of that book, fascinating book, huge tome, but it speaks about that now really the most important element that sort of governs the relationships between nations these days, is civilization in nature. It’s not economics, it’s not governmental or political, it is cultural, the world is being divided into cultural sort of groups and that is really what, nowadays, it’s Islam against the west, against Asia. And these are now the elements that divide men, just like they did before.
Because that’s what happens. You see, the natural tendency of the world and of civilizations without the unifying force of Jesus Christ is division, strife, conflict.
And so Paul is saying, you know, Jesus is the unifying. As we become united in him, we can aspire to have peace among ourselves. Now, you may say, and in all honesty I have to answer one argument for myself and nobody else is going to raise it, because I know I have a friendly audience here. But if I were a secularly minded person, I would says, yeah, well that sounds very nice but, hey, Christianity, there have been huge wars among Christian nations throughout the ages.
Look at Europe in the First World War and the Second World War. These were Christian nations and they killed millions of their own people each other. And not only that, but look at America in the 18th and 19th centuries with slavery oppressing Africans and slaving them. And even then, after that in the 20th century before the civil rights movement discriminating against the black people here in America. And what about…. Let’s go further, what about the religious wars. What about Ireland with Catholics and Protestants. And what about the religious wars of the 17th century in Europe where people killed themselves in the name of Jesus. Does that negate Paul’s contention that Jesus is the unifying element? I submit to you that it does not.
And I’ll tell you why and it is this. Every one of those examples that can be adduced or mentioned to contradict the assertion of the Bible that Jesus is the peace, the only possible element of peace. I can show you that in each of those historical examples where Jesus does not seem to be the unifying element, it was not Jesus, it was not his teachings, but rather the violation of his teachings, in the name of Jesus and a superficial application of the gospel that permitted those wars and those conflicts to happen.
So, for example, when you look at the oppression of white against black, when I look at scripture, time and time again, I see all kinds of statements, that if I apply them to my life and to the way I treat, I could not enslave a black man or a white man, from another race, because the Bible well read and well applied, would immediately point to my inconsistency, to my sinful way of doing it.
So, for example, you know, when I look, look at Galatians, chapter 3, verse 26, that’s why Christianity was able to slowly erode slavery. You know the Apostle Paul didn’t have to recommend a revolution to end slavery, Jesus didn’t have to recommend a revolution to end slavery, in their teachings, in scripture when you isolate clear statements of the unity of man and the way we should treat each other, there’s no room for enslavement, there is no room for rich oppressing poor and hording money and exploiting advantage to get more money and to make people more poor. When you read the ethical statements of the Bible, you know, and you apply them truly, there is no way that any of those things can have any place in the life of a Christian, or of a Christian nation or of a Christian society.
So, for example look at that 3:26. It says: “… you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus”- You are all- “…. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
Do you know that in America there were many people who did not want the gospel preached to the blacks? Because they knew that if they became Christians, they could not oppress them. So you know, in their demonic reasoning they tried to prevent Africans from becoming Christians.
Now, is there anything Christian in that? Of course, not. They had to go through the subterfuge of denying the humanity of these men and women because they knew that if they acknowledged the humanity of these men and women, they could not continue being Christians or professing to be Christians and continue enslaving.
That’s why you had these three fifths clause, this horrible, horrible shame that this nation will always had to live with, where they assigned sort of a 3/5th humanity to black slaves, because they could not assign them full humanity, because they knew that as soon as they did that they could be indited by the word of God. Just as many Christians in this nation understood that and that’s why they fought against slavery. In England, the same thing, it was Christians who abolished slavery because of Christian teaching. Because they knew what the word says.
And it says here, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. You belong to Christ.”
If you belong to Christ then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise. Now, when I read statements like that, if I have the integrity of fully accepting what those statements mean, there’s no way that I can enslave anybody, and still consider myself a Christian.
Now, I can do what so many of us do which is profess to be a Christian, but knowing that in these areas of my life I’m not living. We do that all the time, with all kinds of moral behavior, but we know deep in our soul, in our conscience that we are not, that we are compartmentalizing Christianity. We know that in all kinds of ….. that’s the way me can profess to be Christians and live with glaring inconsistencies in their lives.
And that’s what many nations have done. In killing each other, in going to war against each other, and in oppressing and in hording money and denigrating others, what they’re doing really is, while professing to be Christians and followers of Christ, they are suppressing the truth of Christ in certain moral ethical areas of their life. But when you apply, when you have the integrity to apply Christianity in all its ethical claims and statements. There’s no way that you can wiggle out or what it means, the ethical implications.
Look at another passages, Colossians, chapter 3. You know, it’s that same statement. Let’s see I think it’s beginning with verse 5. It says, “…put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature, sexual immorality, impurity lost, evil desires and greed which is idolatry, because of these wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways and the life you once lived, but now you made rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language from your lips, do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self….”
This is all… Paul speaks about that we …. There was a new man that was created through Christ, in that passage that we just read. Well, he’s saying, what are the implications? If you are a new man and a new woman, these are the things that you are supposed to be doing, these are the ethical, moral implications of all of these things. All the glaring immorality should go from your life. So, also should all the middle level immorality of bad mouthing and you know, lying to each other and so on.
And then in verse 11 it says “….here, in that new self, which is being renewing knowledge in the image of its creation, here, there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and is in all. Therefore,….
As a result of the fact that God has made you one through Jesus Christ, and has brought you into one new man, has reconciled you in his flesh, vis a vis, God vis a vis yourself, vis a vis your genders, and so on and so forth, “…..therefore as God’s chosen people holy and dear to be loved, cloth yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one other, forgive as the Lord forgave you and over all these virtues put on love which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts since as members of one body, you were called to peace”.
My brothers and sisters, where is there space in that for me to go chopping my brothers and sisters head in the name of Christ? Where is the license, where is the permission to do that except by my willfully saying ‘I’m not going to respect that’, and in the name of religion kill other believers in Christ.
It’s not Christ, it is not the values of Christ. It is not the word of Christ that is giving license, but the violation of the law of love and of peace, and of being one body. But if we live the gospel, if we live the ethical and the moral calling of the word of God, then truly you begin to understand that Christ is indeed the element of peace and of harmony among men and women.
He abolishes the supposed superiority of one group over the other, the right of one group to oppress or exploit, or manipulate the other. That’s what Christ does, that’s what Christ…. I mean, he gives us not only the call to do that, but also the power to do that, to live that way, because in ourselves we cannot live that way. But Christ released a grace that made it possible.
His purpose it says in verse 15 was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace. And in this one body, this one new man, to reconcile both of them. Who are both of them? The Jews and the gentiles, symbols of the divisions between mankind. You can name anybody: black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Brazilian, whatever, you know, his purpose was to bring us all together. And he put to death our hostility.
You know, and finally the one… you know, as believers we have to be people of reconciliation and of love and of acceptance of one another. And there is no place for a church, in my opinion, in the realm of Christ that is only white, I mean, there may be circumstances maybe, you may live in a region where there is no Hispanic or black person, or Asian person and ok. But in a city like Boston I think it is a tragedy when you have churches that are only black or only white or only Latino. I mean, maybe only Latino because of language barriers, but if there are no natural barriers that impede communication, I believe that the ideal situation is a community where there is diversity in every sense. That is the idea that we should strife for, where there are different socio economic roofs, rich and poor and middle class. There is a congregation where there’s young people and old people and everything in between; a congregation where there is black and Latino and Asian and white and everything in between; a congregation where there is even people from different denominational backgrounds that have been brought together by circumstances, that is the beauty.
And I do pray that we can be that kind of a congregation and that the Lord would raise a congregation where you know, black and white and Hispanic and Asian can sit together comfortably and realize that God in his understanding created all these different sensibilities and races in order that we might enrich each other, that we might exemplify the diversity and the complexity and the texture of the father himself which infinite, infinitely rich. And I think Christian communities need to be communities that aspire to that diversity.
And that we can, even though we recognize our differences and celebrate them, we also recognize our oneness in Jesus Christ. We can love each other, we can appreciate each other, we can affirm each other, we can celebrate each other, and if there is something that comes between us, I mean, as is going to happen because we are humans, that we will very diligently and quickly, and painfully go through the process of erasing that dividing wall as soon as possible through communication, through forgiveness, through proactive seeking dialogue, through any means that enables us to close the gap and re establish the unity, the harmony.
That’s what I aspire to for this community as God continues to raise and it and to bring it together and I pray desperately that would be the case, that never would there be a rending of the harmony, because it is a total contradiction of what Jesus is. In essence Jesus is the reconciler, in essence Jesus is the unifier, and any community that does not exemplify that does not belong to the spirit of Jesus.
I finish with a word from Second Corinthians, chapter 5 and it says in verse 16, “…so from now own –and you might look at 15 even,- ….he died for all that those who live shall no longer live for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised again”.
There’s the death of Jesus, what he did, he died and he became that peace, that unifying element. Then he says, “…so from now on, we regard no one from a worldly that is a carnal point of view, though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone…”
See the allusion here to that new man that Jesus created, that we read back in Ephesians. “…. The new has come…”
In other words what Paul is saying, listen, we have been so radically affected by the change that Jesus has brought, that we no longer examine human beings the way the world examines them: are you black, are you white, are you rich, are you poor, are you handsome, are you not so attractive, whatever. We don’t judge that way, we judge according to the spirit, we judge according to the beauty and the reconciling influence of the gospel. Therefore if any one is in Christ he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come. All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ.…”
There is the revelation and then look what he says “…and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…” There you have the ethical implications of what has just been revealed. One is the mysterious spiritual action that God carried out through Jesus Christ in the spiritual realm, and then the other one is what that means on the ground.
“….He has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that God was reconciling the world to himself on Christ, not counting men against them, and he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore in Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God and you know, you go on and you’ll see that there’s a whole ethical examination of what that means even further.
So brothers and sisters, the fact that Christ reconciled us, brought us together and so on is not to remain in the high, lofty realm of theological illumination, it is to be brought down in the way we live life. We are supposed to be elements of reconciliation as much as possible, we should be people of love and of peace, of forgiveness, of acceptance toward each other, of affirmation of each other’s beauties and values and we need to be communities of love because the person that we serve, the God man that reconciled us to God, that’s the very essence of his nature: love, peacefulness, reconciliation, harmony, unification. We must live the same way.
We must ask God to makes us instruments of his unity as we walk this earth. Do you say amen to that? Can we stand and receive that call to be reconcilers, to be lovers and affirmers of humanity to be examples, to be a community of love and a community of diversity and a community of unity as well. I do pray that that message digs deep into our lives.
Father we accept the calling of your word. We ask for forgiveness in the name of our brothers and sisters throughout the ages who have made a sham of your gospel by using the name of Christ in vain and while calling themselves Christians, and we have fallen into that many times, Lord, in our daily life, while claiming to be living under the spirit of Christ we have done things that have denied the spirit of Christ and I ask forgiveness for myself. I ask forgiveness of your church throughout the ages. I ask forgiveness of this congregation to the degree that we have done that, Father.
I ask forgiveness on behalf of our churches in Boston, in the south and all over America that every Sunday we negate what Jesus himself is and what the gospel is. We ask for forgiveness Father, and then we raise our heads toward that calling. We do not run away from it, we do not try to hide it. We embrace it and say, Lord have mercy on us as we try to live that high calling of being ambassadors, of being agents of peace, of being peace makers, of being men and women of love and of protection of the poor and the weak, and the needy.
Father, help this congregation, help this emerging church to be an example of Christ’s love and give us the power to live according to that high calling. Thank you Jesus because you paid the price and you constituted yourself in a bridge, a way, a road between men and women, between cultures, between races.
Thank you for that sacrifice. May we live and honor your sacrifice and your call. We embrace your word, we embrace it with fear and trembling. We embrace it with joy knowing that through you we can live that. Thank you in Jesus’ name. Amen. Amen.