That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home. (Ephesians 2:19)
You belong here - those are words many of us are longing to hear, aren't they? We go through life wandering from this to that, trying out one thing or another, all in hopes of finding where we 'fit'. God is building a home - not with bricks and mortar - but will lives. Your life and mine all fit together in perfect union - a holy temple in which his glory dwells and is displayed for all the world to see. I really want to spend some time this morning considering just a portion of this passage: He's using us all - irrespective of how we got here. Irrespective - don't miss that word because I honestly think there are some who feel they don't 'belong' because their pasts are filled with all manner of sinful choices. If God could use Zaccheus - a Roman tax collector - in fact, the Chief Tax Collector in Jericho - then could God possibly use us?
What makes a tax collector all that important to consider this morning? A tax collector in those times was considered to be a very greedy profession - because they not only collected what was owed to the Roman government, but a percentage on top of it that they took as their own income. This made them very wealthy men, but very much despised by the populous. They were kind of like the mafia back in the day - if you didn't pay up, you could be punished severely until you paid in full - both the tax and the collector's percentage. They would take as much as they wanted - there was no limit to their demands. The greedier they were, the more they were despised. Since there were no laws to govern how they did their job, they had 'carte blanch' to do as they pleased to get whatever they wanted.
If Jesus would take time to talk with such a sinner, much less dine with him, and then extend to him the grace to forgive him his many indiscretions, what makes us think he wouldn't do the same for us? Irrespective means there is nothing in our past or present that excludes us from his grace. Where his grace is given, lives are transformed. Transformed lives make great building blocks in his kingdom, don't they? Was my 'transformation' as dramatic as yours? Who cares! If a life has been touched by grace - let that life give glory to God! If that life has been renewed under his power - let that life shine forth! Stop discounting your life as 'not useful', or 'too worthless' to be of use in his kingdom. Irrespective of who you are, what you have done, who you have been - he turns you into 'stones' of honor! Just sayin!
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