Spiritual Dodgeball

I vividly remember playing dodgeball as a kid. The dreaded red ball. The sound of the red ball smacking up against the wall. The thump of the red ball smacking up against the side of my head. The marks it left on my body parts. But the thing I remember the most is being picked last for a team. The sting of the ball was much less than the sting of not being a first-string player. Some of you know exactly what I am talking about. You are too tall so you become an easy target, or too short so you don’t run fast enough, and maybe on top of it all others don’t think you are cool enough to be chosen. When you seriously think about it does anyone look THAT cool when playing dodgeball?

Our lesson from Ephesians is from chapter 2 verses 11-22. Here Paul unpacks verses 1-10 by breaking down our inclusion in Christ Jesus. He starts by making the statement, “Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, malienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” Israel was the chosen nation by God. They were the “cool” people. The uncool people were the rest of us, the Gentiles. We were separated from Christ, and alienated from the nation of Israel, and strangers to the covenants, and on top of it all we had no hope and was without God. Most desperately uncool. If the nation of Israel had one card they could play against us it would be that they had God on their side. “But,” I like it when Paul uses the word but, “now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” We as the uncircumcised Gentiles have been brought near to God by the blood of Christ! We have been grafted into the olive tree (Israel) by Christ. His atoning blood broke down the separation between Jew and Gentile thus abolishing the enmity between the nations and bringing peace by making us one.

During our Bible study on Galatians Paul spoke of adoption into the family of God in chapter 4:1-7. The Galatians had Judaizers to contend with who added to the gospel of Christ, but the Ephesians had to comprehend the salvation given to them freely simply by placing their faith and trust in Christ. Remember that Ephesus was known for the pagan worship of Diana, or Artemus. One had to work their way for approval from the pagan deity. But here Paul expresses that the Ephesians had to no longer work their way into the grace of God. It was freely given as told us in 2:8-10 to everyone who had the faith to believe, Jew or Gentile. It is a radical concept when one finds themselves chosen, not on their own merit or coolness factor, but simply because the One choosing has decided to do so.

Now one must ask where do they stand once chosen? Verse 19, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” Here Paul tells us we are now fellow citizens. We join a group of fellow Believers who have placed their faith and trust in the Almighty God. We stand alongside Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Rahab, Deborah, and Gideon. David, Samuel and list goes on. Hebrews 13 even tells of those unnamed that have suffered for the sake of Christ and his gospel. The apostle and the prophets spoke of Christ as the cornerstone. A cornerstone is the first stone set in masonry construction and it’s importance is such that all other stones are set in reference to that stone. It really determines the position of the entire structure. With Christ as our cornerstone we can know that we are true in our life by aligning it to him. If it was true for the apostles, prophets and those whom have gone before we can be sure it will keep our life true.

So…. how does this all relate to dodgeball? I’m glad you asked. No where in the Bible have I found where I need to be “cool” or popular or even the right height/weight/size to accept Christ and his payment for my sin. Christ has already accepted me. I only need to allow his Holy Spirit to work inside my heart to accept his forgiveness and payment for my sin. He has broken down the wall of separation and it’s his household that he wants me to join. Will you let go of your sin and let him clean you up?

Grace and peace, James

*Scripture from ESV, Crossway Publishing, 2001

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