No Longer a Stranger

For Christ himself is our way of peace. He has made peace between us Jews and you Gentiles by making us all one family, breaking down the wall of contempt that used to separate us. By his death he ended the angry resentment between us, caused by the Jewish laws which favored the Jews and excluded the Gentiles, for he died to annul that whole system of Jewish laws. Then he took the two groups that had been opposed to each other and made them parts of himself; thus he fused us together to become one new person, and at last there was peace. As parts of the same body, our anger against each other has disappeared, for both of us have been reconciled to God. And so the feud ended at last at the cross. And he has brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were very far away from him, and to us Jews who were near. Now all of us, whether Jews or Gentiles, may come to God the Father with the Holy Spirit's help because of what Christ has done for us.

Now you are no longer strangers to God and foreigners to heaven, but you are members of God's very own family, citizens of God's country, and you belong in God's household with every other Christian. Ephesians 2: 14-19 (TLB)

Teresa Naidoo is from KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. As a bright-eyed new Christian, Teresa believed that everything in her life would suddenly be perfect and every problem would be solved supernaturally. No one ever spoke about the process of change that needed to happen - the old ways of thinking that needed to change and the refining that God would do in her. In church Teresa would look around at Christians who had been believers for many years. She would listen to their experiences of hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit and walking in God's will for their lives. Teresa grew discouraged and felt like an outsider in a land that was not her own. She often wondered if she was even supposed to be a Christian, especially since she had once been a "Gentile" and an "unbeliever."

Ephesians became her comfort and hope during those challenging times. Paul said that he was "preaching among the Gentiles" in Ephesians 3.8, and Teresa clung to Ephesians 2:19, which reminded her that she was no longer a stranger. Teresa declared over and over that she was a citizen with the saints and a member of the household of God. And eventually the labels "Gentile" and "unbeliever" no longer defined her; Teresa had become a Christ-follower!

Hopefully we will learn from this, and when we encounter a new Christian welcome them into the family and be willing to answer any questions they may have.

Prayer: Dear God, thank you for welcoming us as members of your household, in Jesus' name. Amen.

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