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Remember



Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 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.


Ephesians 2:11,12


I really don’t like being told that I was wrong. I’m not certain that anyone really enjoys it, but I’m not a fan. I work hard at keeping everything where it belongs. Or at least keeping up the front that everything is OK.


But sometimes we all need a swift kick in the butt. Something that will shake us up. A shock to our system that will wake us up to the trouble that we’re in.


These Ephesians have just been told that they are saved by grace through faith. This gift from God was not the result of something they had done. It also wasn’t theirs because of who they were or their ethnic heritage.


The shock that they needed was to remember who they were and where they came from.


  • Separated – Not only were they without Christ, but they also had no connection to him. They had no relationship with him at all. There was nothing that tied them to the savior of the world.

  • Excluded – They weren’t just aliens, but they were alienated. They weren’t strange, but strangers to God. Where they felt at home was so very different from being at home with God, where they belonged.

  • Foreigners – Since they were not citizens, they didn’t belong. They weren’t entitled to all the benefits and privileges of someone who was part of a larger group.

  • Hopeless – It isn’t that they just didn’t have hope, they were totally without any possibility for anything to get better. Nothing was going to change where or who they were.

  • Without God – They are so far removed from God, they have no way to reach him. They are penniless, their pockets have holes in them. All their accounts are totally empty. They are bankrupt when it comes to God.


Wow, that’s some kind of message. They were totally out to lunch when it came to God.


We don’t like these kinds of messages. After all, we’re not all that bad. Are we? We have some good in us. We’re part good and part bad. There is a war going on between the good side of us and the bad side of us. We just have to try hard enough to keep the bad side behind the line.


But this is God’s honest opinion of us. He doesn’t pull any punches. He doesn’t hold anything back. The truth might sting, but it’s supposed to. That’s part of what makes it the truth.


If we only hear how nice we are, how good we are, then we’ll just fade off, snoozing away the rest of our lives and all eternity. We won’t know the truth about exactly who we are. And while that truth might make us squirm a bit, it’s still the truth.


The truth is that we’re not all that nice to start with. The fact of the matter is that under all this lovely looking thin skin, we’re just a hot mess of selfishness, greed, anger. And that’s who we are.


Left to ourselves, there’s no way that we can find God. He’s so far above us that we can’t even see him. He’s so distant and different that there is no possibility of us getting his attention, much less for him to want a relationship with us.


This also stops us from being able to truly fix ourselves. Yes, we might be able to put on a coat of paint to temporarily hide what’s underneath. But beyond that, all other changes are purely cosmetic, on the surface. It doesn’t change who we really are.


I can dress up all I want. Put on a football uniform and claim to be a NFL offensive lineman. I can want it. I can talk about it. I can post about it. Even shout it. But nothing is going to change the fact that I’m not and there is nothing that will change me.


Without Jesus, that’s exactly where we are. With no hope in this world, or any other world for that matter.


Every so often, we need to take a good, hard, honest look at ourselves. And when we do, we find that we are totally bankrupt before God. That’s why he had to reach out in grace. That’s why Jesus had to die in our place, making reunion with our loving heavenly Father possible.


Now that’s something worth remembering. He’s worthy of all our worship and praise.


Noodling Questions


  • How do you react to being told you’re separated, excluded, foreigners, hopeless?

  • How can this message be a great encouragement to you?

  • Think about your story of going from “without God” to being his child.

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