Yesterday was an amazing day. Not only was it a gorgeous, sunny June day, but at 5:30 yesterday my daughter, Michaela, was baptized. She’s nine years old, but her heart is God’s. She loves her church, and more importantly, she loves Jesus. I love hearing her sing along to Christian music in the back seat of the car. Yesterday was an incredible day, full of emotion, love, and actually– a lesson.
See, after the people were baptized (and I’ll get to that in a moment), Steven (our pastor) asked if there was anyone else who wanted, or felt led to be baptized. The little lady just to my right raised her hand. She was 80 years old. We helped her in the pool, and there she was, in her “church clothes” getting baptized. Isn’t it amazing how God can work? Isn’t it a beautiful picture that God loves us all? That’s because there are no barriers when it comes to God’s love. It is available to everyone. There’s not an age limit, no race involved, and no matter your economic or political background. Just as the Jews and Gentiles once were separated, through Christ we all have the opportunity at true unity.
Paul addressed this in Ephesians 2, but I want to focus in on verses 19-22:
19Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
We all make up the church (as believers). God gave us salvation (through belief) to make us His. Adoption into His family. We are the “whole building.” The church is not the building where people gather. I’ve been in churches that met in really nice buildings, rented buildings, rented churches, schools, auditoriums, and old supermarkets. To say that the church is where God is would be folly. The church is made up of the believers, regardless of where they meet, regardless of what they look like on the outside, regardless of the mix of people. One of my friends and pastors, Scott, always said “A beautiful mosaic” of believers. I like that.
I’m going to go backwards in the scripture now and look at verses 15-18.
His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
What Paul is saying here is that Christ died so that all of us have access to Him, and to salvation. It’s not for one set of people. Salvation was for all. And it is through Him that we are saved, not through what we do for Him. Verse 8-9 says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast.” It is not God’s plan that our good deeds or good works bring salvation. Rather, it’s that after we are saved, the good works of those in the church would show God’s love to a watching world.
One of the cartoon movies that the kids watch (Robots) has a very unique line. “See a need, fill a need.” Shouldn’t that be a mantra for us today? Isn’t that how the church can show God’s love? I’m not saying they try to fill every single one of them, but every community is different and unique. Each community has a very specific way that the church can be “Jesus with skin on” to them. It’s an awesome challenge.
Whether you are a 9 year-old, or 80 year-old, God has a specific plan for you. No matter where you’ve been, or who you think you are, God has a plan for you. No matter how bad you think you’ve been or you just realized that all the good “stuff” you’ve done just isn’t enough, God has a plan for you. There are no barriers. There are no hoops. Only salvation, and no walls.