January 4

Ephesians 3:1-6

“that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” vs. 6

Paul’s gospel insight changed everything in those exciting Spirit-directed and chaotic early days of the Church. The promise of life and forgiveness that had been given to the children of Abraham through the revelation of the prophets was intended for all people. No one was to be excluded! All people were to be considered fellow heirs and members of the same body. Never again would there be insiders and outsiders! This simple truth has been excruciatingly difficult for the Church to take to heart and put into practice. Almost immediately folks started to make exceptions based on orthodoxy, morality, and ethnicity. Rules and traditions were designed to keep out anyone who didn’t conform to rigidly defined standards. Even in our supposedly enlightened times the Church often delights in exclusions and becomes nothing more than a glorified club for people who think they’re just a little bit better than everyone else. Of course there are exceptions, communities of believers who are known for their open doors and open minds. These scattered saints and sinners keep Paul’s vision alive and actively practice openness and acceptance in their associations. In their midst the promise of new life in Christ is proclaimed, the hungry are fed, and the hurting find healing. In them Jesus lives on!

Thought for the Day: Who might not be welcome in your congregation?

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