Stepping Stones

THE FIRST SCRIPTURE                                    Ephesians 2:11-22                                                                                        One in Christ

So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision”—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands—remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens 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 is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

TIME WITH GOD’S CHILDREN#494     “Step by Step”

THE SERMON           “Stepping Stones”

 

 

 

A priest, an evangelist, and a minister were in a row boat in the middle of a lake fishing. None of them had caught anything all morning.   Then the evangelist stands up and says he needs to get something for lunch.  He walks to shore. Then the minister decides to follow him, so he climbs out of the boat and walks on the water to shore.

The priest look  at both of them on shore and decides that his faith is just as strong as his fishing buddies and that he can walk on water, too. As he steps out, he makes a big splash down into the water.  The evangelist looks at the minister and says, "I suppose we should have told him where the rocks were."

About this time in the summer, we’d see if we could walk across the river without getting our pant legs wet. It was easy when you knew where to walk and navigate the rocks just below the surface.  Sometimes, I’d go first and then watch my friend try to follow in my footsteps. A couple of time, my best friend who knew the way challenged other friends to go first and watch them step off up to their waist.  We might tell the secret to those who we considered part of the in group, yet it was kind of an initiation for others.

In Ephesus, the different ethnic and religious groups mostly isolated themselves. The uncircumcised Romans looked down at the Jews and the circumcised Jews kept their distance so that they would not become unclean and unable to enter worship. This segregation created challenges to spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The separation did not allow for people to evangelize and tell their neighbors of God’s grace and forgiveness.  Jesus invited both Jew and Gentile to be united in the Body of Christ.

They remained strangers and aliens. The Body of Christ endured a disjointed existence.  Donald Miller claims this challenge still exists in the Christian Church today. We tend to spend time with our Christian friends in isolation from non-Christians. We developed a polite mentality that hinders our sharing our joy of knowing Christ. We don’t want to impose our belief on others. So we don’t say anything about the importance of Christ in our lives.

We don’t even share the hope and peace we feel for our eternal resting place. We may not experience hostility but we leave a vacant void by not developing friendships with people who hold different ideas. We want to hold tight to our own righteous commandments without sharing the love of Christ and trusting on the Holy Spirit to convict others. We leave no room for the Lord to bring reconciliation.

Christ came to reconcile all sinful humanity to God our Creator. Jesus brings peace to those who trust the Lord to guide us as we walk along the stepping stones. God does not expect us to begin in perfection, but to strive to learn and grow in faith until we get to the other side. God does not hold a theological litmus test, but takes us our current knowledge and deepens our understanding as we access the Spirit to bring us closer to God’s holy path. We, strangers and aliens, become citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. We learn to walk on the stepping stones.

As members of the Body of Christ, we walk with and encourage all people to watch they step and gracefully approach God to deepen our faith as we mature in understanding God’s love and grace that reconciles us and all people to Christ. TGBTG. Amen.

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