Thursday, April 28, 2011

Strangers



"Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world." Eph. 2:11,12

Those words: separated, alienated, and strangers are words that I once quickly read over without much thought, but now I linger over. They are concepts that I turn around in my head as I go through my day. I feel them much deeper than I ever have before.

I am traveling through a little hiccup in my life. I have left behind close family members and I had a tight-knit, loving church family. Combined with a long period of not finding a church, I am experiencing only a taste of what it would mean to be to be a true stranger, a true alien, and separated from the covenants of promise.


Wandering from church to church feels a little like being homeless.

I may be experiencing some small amount of sorrow in the big scheme of things, but it is helping me to identify with the man of sorrows.

I may feel like an outsider, but he was despised and rejected by men.


I sit and bemoan having no one to go to coffee with, but he was so disliked that he was "one from whom men hide their faces." I haven't had anyone do that yet when I walked up to them.

I am apt to complain about being in a new place, but when he was oppressed and afflicted, he opened not his mouth.

By oppression and judgment, he was taken away.

I may feel the pain of not having many people who know me well yet, but he was so misunderstood that he was numbered with the transgressors.

I feel alienation because my family is far away, but he had to deal with the rejection of his very own Father: "Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; He has put him to grief."

I may feel cut off from all the people I love who are far away, and yet he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of his people.


"And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near." I understand that more clearly now.

"So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God!" I hear this through the eyes of a stranger now. You belong not only to a city (citizens) but to a family, God is saying. Being a stranger in a city and separated by distance from your family, makes this promise the more beautiful.

This is the gospel, that strangers have become citizens with the saints and aliens have become members of the household of God!




Ephesians 2

Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated 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 himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Isaiah 53

Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.


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