“The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” – Winston Churchill
Some trust in chariots,
And some in horses;
But we will remember the name of the Lord our God.
Therefore remember…remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near, by the blood of Christ.
For He himself is our peace.
(selection from Ephesians 2: 11-22)
This call to remember challenges my soul. It echoes in my mind like a prophet’s cry. Throughout Scripture, the Lord has given us many warnings to remember. Moses exhorted Israel to remember what the Lord had done, but then he goes further by cautioning them to additionally remember the Lord Himself. Samuel set up a stone of remembrance and named it Ebenezer so that the Lord’s help would specifically be remembered. Altars and memorials were built as memory aids. The songs of Psalms were written to constantly tune our hearts to sing His praise in remembrance. Exploits were recorded. Annual celebrations of remembering were instituted. And Christ Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Therefore, remember.
When was the last time you stopped to remember the great transformation accomplished? I do not mean thinking about what was accomplished in general …but pondering the memory of what Christ Jesus has done in your life. Does this call to remember challenge you?
Paul reminds us that we look backward and remember our condition without Christ so that today we will recognize and treasure the blessings we have IN Christ. Then we will have hope and eagerly look forward in anticipation to the fulfillment of all promised blessings.
The blessing of Christ as our peace.
In Ephesians, Paul declares that Christ brought peace to two groups, Jews and Gentiles, that were separated by a barrier. Peace was brought by destroying a barrier and bringing both groups to Himself through the cross. If salvation is IN Christ Jesus, it didn’t matter that one group was closer than the other. Being outside of Christ by a foot, or being outside of Christ by a mile, is still being outside of Christ. Two became one in redemption, because both groups were in need of salvation. There are still many barriers that divide people groups, and many attempts to bring peace. But peace does not come as the result of winning a war, or writing a treaty, or constructing a compromise. Peace is not a product. It is a person. Christ IS our peace.
The blessing of being a citizen of Christ’s kingdom.
Because we have the peace of Christ, we have access to the Father. Paul enumerates that another result of that union is that we are no longer foreigners and strangers, but we are citizens of a heavenly kingdom. If your earthly citizenship was handed to you easily by birth, you may take it for granted. But for the immigrants, the foreigners, and the strangers, a lengthy naturalization process must be successfully completed. The benefits of citizenship come at an expense of difficulty, time, and money so they are benefits that are treasured. Do you treasure the specific benefits we have as citizens of Christ’s kingdom? To not treasure is to not acknowledge the great expense Christ paid for us.
The blessing of being a member of Christ’s household.
Access to the Father by the blood of Christ makes us “blood relatives” of the Lord! Paul reminds us that God is saying “I want you in my family”. How precious this truth is to my heart. We are surrounded by broken families, children in need of adoption, homeless feeling unwanted, young people who feel unwanted, and adults who do have a difficult time parenting because they were never parented. You may be one of these. My heart breaks whenever I hear a child referred to as “an accident”. There may be accidental parents, but there are no accidental children, each is loved by the Lord. God is saying to each of us that being in His family is no accident. There is a plan. There is His plan of love.
The blessing of being Christ’s holy temple.
Access to the Father by one Spirit unites us. It joins us together with the Chief Cornerstone as a dwelling place of the Lord. We are part of a building development, a progressive work that the Lord is doing. As living stones we are fitted, hammered and chiseled into a shape that The Architect will use for His very own permanent dwelling. His…very…own…dwelling!! He isn’t visiting our lives. He isn’t vacationing in our church. We lives in what He is making of us…a holy temple.
Therefore remember. Remember your blessings. Remember and be blessed.
Echoes Of Encouragement From Ephesians (8)