Monday, August 30, 2010

Greetings, Fellow Citizens

"Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household,"  Ephesians 2:19

Something wonderful happens when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  It's so much more than simply a warm, fuzzy feeling.  In fact, it's many wonderful somethings that happen.  When Jesus comes into our life- He literally saves us from an eternity of torment in the lake of fire.   Additionally, when we make Jesus number one in our life, we also transfer our citizenship from earth to heaven. 

I am reminded of our studies of American History.  How appropriate, since we start school back up this morning as soon as I'm done here.  :)  I love reading the stories of immigrants, and the trials and travels they had to go through to get to our country.  So many persevered through hard times, simply to get themselves and their families to the land of freedom and opportunity.  They came from all kinds of differing countries and backgrounds, but do you know what happened when they arrived on our shores and visited Ellis Island?  They became US citizens.  Former Russians, Germans, Indians, Kenyans, and Chinese all bore the similar title of United States Citizen- even though they may have been rooted elsewhere.  They obviously looked and acted nothing alike, but they became citizens- brothers in this new land.

In the exact same way, when we accept Christ as our Lord, we are granted citizenship in heaven, and as such, we also suddenly find ourselves with a whole new family.  As part of God's Household, we find ourselves with a hugely new family full of new brothers and sisters.  And every person who takes that step of faith is welcomed into this same family.  Think of that- not only are we now citizens of Heaven, but we are also united for all eternity.  Our brothers and sisters in that church down the road are just as much part of God's household as the church that we attend on a regular basis.

Unity in the church.  So often I think that when people think of the idea of unity in the church, they think that we all have to shed the various teachings and ideas that make us unique, so that we all become one big, united church under God.  But I think that unity is actually slightly different than that.  It's not even so much the idea of accepting our differences, but simply the act of loving one another.  Truly.  Think about our natural, human families.  I love my brothers and sisters all the time- no matter what.  Even during those times in our life where we think we don't like them all that much, underneath, there is always love, connecting us one-with-another, no matter the circumstances or where we are in life.  The family model is a model for us as citizens of Heaven.  We are to love each other- no matter what.  We are to show love to one another- we bear each others burdens, and we lift each other up in prayer.  Unity is love.  It isn't all of our different churches uniting together and becoming one in theology and doctrine and whatnot.  It's simply loving each other, and then! (There's a really cool then!) Then, when we have learned to love each other- no matter what, we can turn to our unchurched neighborhoods and show them the exact same love.  That love will draw them in.

Really.  When the unchurched and the unsaved can look at their community and see all the different churches loving each other- instead of competing for membership or criticizing each other, it will draw them in.  Love will save our communities and our neighborhoods.  All because we showed love.  The love that was naturally placed inside of us when we accepted Christ as our Savior.  The same love that ties us all together as citizens of Heaven, is the same love that will bring peace and unity to the human race.  We just need to learn to love one another- just as Jesus commanded us.

"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:29-31

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