Unless you were born into royalty or attained wealth, at some point you have endured “you are not welcome here” rejection. Gaining entrance into an exclusive club or getting priority treatment – even by an airline or rental car agency – requires membership.
Elite status is usually expensive. More perks and more pampering require more payment.
By definition, “exclusive” means most of us aren’t included. And it’s not a good feeling to watch others get superior treatment while we are neglected. Or see them welcomed into a desired venue that shuts the door on us.
Most of us also know the “but not you” disappointment of not being picked for a team or group in which we desired to participate. We felt the pain of not being chosen for the part in the play we wanted.
“Chosen” (“I want YOU!”) is the highest “elite status” when it is God who chooses. Before entering the Promised Land, the children of Israel were told, “The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”[i]
What’s the advantage of being part of the chosen people, a physical descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Paul asks this question in Romans 3, then answers in the next verse, “Great in every respect.”[ii]
How so? Paul takes inventory of the spiritual treasure chest God gave to the Jewish people: “to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Messiah according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever.”[iii]
Now that is an exclusive club – with extraordinary benefits!
But what is our status as Gentiles? Do we have a spiritual heritage?
Paul tells us, “You were . . . separate from Messiah, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”[iv]
Talk about the pain of not belonging! This is the worst kind of “not you” imaginable.
Note Paul says, “You were” – past tense. The hinge on which our eternal destiny swings on one word: “But.”
“But now in Messiah Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Messiah.”[v]
What is the spiritual implication of being brought near? Is it like having access to the Court of the Gentiles at the Temple in Jerusalem? Provision was made under the Old Covenant for non-Israelites to be “adjacent to” but not go into the Temple complex.
No – Gentiles fare far better under the New Covenant! Paul continues in Ephesians 2:
For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR.[vi]
Unity, peace, reconciliation. What wonderful results from Messiah’s cross work!
But wait – there’s more!
For through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Messiah Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.[vii]
At Life in Messiah, we revel in the goodness and grace of God. We delight to read in Romans that Abraham is the spiritual father of gentiles as well as Jewish people.[viii] That we “wild branches” are ingrafted into the spiritual blessings God promised Abraham.[ix]
And as seen above, Gentile believers enjoy “full citizenship rights” with Jewish believers. As “one new man” united through faith in Messiah’s finished work, we are being built together into God’s dwelling.
It is this reality that makes LIFE’s third value statement so meaningful: “אנחנו משפחה במשיח” (“Anachnu mishpacha baMashiach”) – “We are family in the Messiah.”