“Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the Cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the Cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.”
(Ephesians 2:11–16 NLT-SE)
I want to tell you a story about me when I was around seven or eight years old.
It was near my birthday, and my dad and mum decided to celebrate it a little bit earlier as one of my uncles were visiting us from the USA. So my granny was there, and my two sisters, Pamela, was 5 or 6, and Kathy was just born.
It was a sweltering day, a spring day, and the sunlight was lovely as it was getting darker later and later. I love that about the summer days.
My uncle brought us so many presents, and it was great, it was more than I could have ever asked. My sisters and I were very blessed. The grown-up was preparing supper and taking. It was great to see my granny together with her two sons.
We felt great, part of the family and much loved.
Then I heard my name called from the street. We played on the streets, it was safe, and we did not worry about much. That part of Santiago, the capital, was relatively quiet, and we had some great neighbours that looked after each other.
Then, I heard a knock on the door, and it was my friend. Even though I had many friends, this friend was the closest. We played football, and I showed him some of my new toys. I heard my mum calling that the food was ready, and I asked my mum if my friend could join us, and my mother was very generous, she would have never said no, it was very common to see people sitting around the table eating with us. I must confess I did not inherit my mother’s gift of hospitality.
So, he came and sat with us, just like one of our families. Then I went to my room,
ran upstairs and got one of the presents I received that day. So, I brought it down, and in front of everyone, I said to my friend, “this is for you”.
When you are at that age, you don’t know values and how much things cost. So apparently, I took the most expensive and most fantastic toy I ever had and gave it to my friend.
My dad and dad were shocked, and so were my granny and uncle, but they did not stop me. They did not ask me to keep it or change it for something else. I could see it on their faces, not just the initial shock but also, they were moved by an act of selfless generosity of 8 years old.
I knew that my friend did not have the means to get one of those toys. I also knew that he suffered the loss of his father a couple of months earlier. Somehow in the mind of an eight-year-old, I understood that his father was no longer there. So I gave him the best toy, the best and most precious gift.
My mum and dad were in tears, and so was my granny and uncle.
As I looked back at this story, I was amazed that I did this! Well, I have never forgotten this story.
When I look at what Jesus has done for us, I cannot but stand in wonder and what he has done.
• This passage of Paul says that we were separated from the promises of God the Father.
• He says that we were far off.
• We were excluded
• We were not citizens
This means that we had no identity!
Let me put it this way! As it was then at the time of Jesus, you know you are part of the family when you carry with you the family name.
It is your inheritance that shapes your identity!
It did not matter if you were the firstborn or not. The fact that you belonged to a family, you were part of them, and the identity of that is your name or surname! You belong to the household of the name that you carry.
This is why at the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew and Luke, you have the chapters called the Genealogy of Jesus; Jesus was the Son of Joseph, the Son of David, the Son of God.
For a few hours, my friend sat down with my family. As an adopted son and like an adopted son, he was given a gift!
What is that gift for us?
That gift is Jesus! Paul says that in Jesus, we are no longer orphans, but we are sons and daughters of the same Father of Jesus.
He made it possible because of his death and resurrection. As a result, we now have peace, and we have been reconciled to the Father.
Like my fatherless friend, we too were fatherless only to encounter the Father of Lights through his Son Jesus – He is the gift everyone wants!
But my friend was never adopted by my dad and mum. So he did not become my brother.
But we do! You see, in Christ, we now are a new creation. We are a new humanity.
That is our identity! We are new in Christ! We are no longer enslaved, but now we have been adopted by God through Jesus, and therefore, we now carry the family name!!
This is so powerful, and it means that we are loved!
Love covers a multitude of Sins! Christ’s love wiped away all our sins, shortcomings, and imperfections. He nailed them to the Cross.
This is the invitation this morning, and unlike my friend, whose invitation was temporary, the invitation of Jesus is eternal. Once you are a son, once you become a son and a daughter of God by asking Christ to dwell in your heart, you get the most precious and costly gift – Jesus- and this new identity last an eternity.
Do you have that gift?