Who Are My Gentiles?

In Ephesians 3, Paul addresses Gentiles in a manner they are not accustomed to being addressed. A man who persecuted Christians before his conversion and had great disdain for Gentiles is now calling them fellow heirs, fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise of Christ Jesus. His passion for Christ and his desire to bring the message of salvation to all is proof of God’s transforming love. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the same could be said of all who claim to know Christ. Unfortunately, His simple message of love isn’t always absorbed deeply enough to allow us to love as He desires.

Christ’s precious love breaks down the barriers which divide my  heart. But before that can happen, I must admit there is division and ask myself, “Who are my Gentiles?” God knows the answer but knows I must come to that truth on my own. Neighbors, enemies, and those who aren’t “like me” are included in God’s kingdom. Knowing my neighbors and recognizing my enemies is easy, but identifying my Gentiles is more difficult because it reveals my judgment of others and exposes my prejudice.

Searching for truth is a tricky business that seldom leads to answers I want to hear, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, I can handle the truth. Division comes from many sources, but only love can make unity possible. Paul’s plea in Ephesians 3 is for such unity.

“For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.”

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (NASB)

Paul’s love for God enabled him to admit and forget about divisions so he could reach out to those he once hated. God will enable the same in me when I stop seeing others as other than and start seeing them as part of God’s kingdom. At a time when hearts have never been more polarized, it is vital to God’s kingdom to let Paul’s plea change our hearts.

Love is a beautiful mystery not meant to be understood. It must simply be embraced, but I cannot embrace it until I identify and love the Gentiles in my life. Then, like Paul, I can reach beyond my judgments and let God have His way with my heart. Ghandi encouraged us to be the change we wish to see in the world. I can think of no better way to do that than identifying my Gentiles and letting the Holy Spirit tear down the walls of division in my own heart.

At Home With Family

Ephesians makes me feel at home with God. I am His own child and joint heir to an inheritance I cannot begin to imagine. I hear powerful words of encouragement in 3:17-21.

“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 

Now all glory to God, who is able through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen” (NASB)

Knowing Christ feels at home in my heart changes the way I love and live. If Christ were coming for a visit, I would be in a dither trying to get everything ready for Him. If I see Him as family at home in my heart, I can relax and enjoy the oneness and comfort family affords. With family, I can be myself. It changes the way I see God and myself when I come to the understanding that He is family.

When my roots reach deeply into God’s love, I find a strength and acceptance I cannot describe. I find peace and love and grace opening my heart to embrace that love. I can’t reach the end of His love because there is no end in any direction I go. I know I will not fully understand Christ’s love until I am with Him in heaven, but I will have a deeper fullness of life if I stretch my faith and allow my heart to explore the vastness of His precious love. Nothing strengthens the heart as effectively as a loving family, and Christ makes that possible for everyone who yearns to be loved and embraced as they are.

God accomplishes infinitely more than I can ask, think, or imagine if I allow Him to make His home in my heart. Love gets wider, longer, and deeper in my own heart as Christ tears down the walls and adds on to my heart in a powerful way. He gives me room to relax and remember who I am. I am God’s daughter, and He delights in me! When I think of Christ being at home in my heart, it makes me smile and treat Him like a big Brother. I believe He likes that better than being treated like a visitor or a marble statue.

Nothing is sweeter than the cozy feeling of being at home with my family. My son and his family have been gone for a few days, and I’ve missed my little granddaughters so very much. The house is clean; the laundry is finished, and the refrigerator is full. I even rearranged the girls playroom. As I look around at the quiet, clean house, I long for the joyful noise of play and the mess that goes along with living with those I love. Jesus and I have had a lot of quiet time together, and it’s been wonderful; but we are both ready for the house to fill up with the love that makes this life worth living.