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Included

We all want to belong somewhere and to fit in with the "in crowd". Jesus has broken down the walls that separate us, and has built us an earthly home within the church body - a church which we ourselves are an essential part of.

Jonathan PokludaApr 24, 2012
Ephesians 2:11-22

Messages In This Series (15)
Spiritual Warfare
Jonathan PokludaJul 3, 2012
The "S" Word
Jonathan PokludaJun 26, 2012
Time of Your Life
David MarvinJun 19, 2012
Getting Lit Up
David MarvinJun 12, 2012
Walk in Love
David MarvinJun 5, 2012
Changed by Truth
Jonathan PokludaMay 29, 2012
Gifts in the Game
Jonathan PokludaMay 22, 2012
Team Sports
Jonathan PokludaMay 16, 2012
For the Love of God
Jonathan PokludaMay 8, 2012
The Mysteries of God
Jonathan PokludaMay 1, 2012
Included
Jonathan PokludaApr 24, 2012
The Living Dead
Jonathan PokludaApr 17, 2012
Power Through Prayer
Jonathan PokludaApr 3, 2012
Chosen by God
Jonathan PokludaMar 27, 2012
A Movement of Truth
Jonathan PokludaMar 20, 2012

I thought about where we're headed tonight. We've been in Ephesians. The other day, I'm reading my little girls a story. That's something that we do. If you're just joining with us, I have two little girls: Presley, who is 5, and Finley, who is 3. I talk about them all of the time. We're reading stories. That's what we do.

Because we just saw The Lorax, the Dr. Seuss movie, we're reading out of Dr. Seuss. I don't know what you know about Dr. Seuss, but this guy probably did a lot of drugs. We're talking about these things called Sneetches. I don't know if you're familiar with the Sneetches, but in this particular story there are the Star-Belly Sneetches.

On the one hand, this is of no relevance to you whatsoever because you're probably not reading Dr. Seuss. On the other hand, it's extremely relevant to you. As I'm reading this story, I'm like, "This is absolutely brilliant." Here is the way the story goes. There is the land of the Sneetches. The Sneetches are this people or creature or something.

There are the Star-Belly Sneetches, those with stars on their belly. There are Sneetches who have no stars on their bellies. Basically, there are the ones with stars and the ones without stars. Everybody who doesn't have stars on their belly wants to, because the ones with stars on their belly get to do all the cool things, like play Sneetch volleyball. Here are some pictures.

There is a Star-Belly Sneetch and there is the Plain-Belly Sneetch. The Plain-Belly Sneetch is sad. The Star-Belly Sneetch is showing off. "Hey, look at my star. I know you want one," kind of thing. Here is what happens. There is a real twist in the plot. What happens is Sylvester McMonkey McBean comes to town.

Sylvester McMonkey McBean has a Star-Off/Star-On Machine. He can give you a star on your belly should you want one. He's right there. The Plain-Belly Sneetches want stars on their bellies. They pay Sylvester McMonkey McBean to go through his Star-On/Star-Off Machine and they get stars on their bellies.

Then what happens is the ones who have the stars on their bellies don't want the stars on their bellies anymore. Lucky for them, Sylvester McMonkey McBean has a Star-on/Star-off Machine. They go through and they get the star taken off. Then those with the stars on, they don't want the stars anymore so they go through and they get their stars taken off.

Those who had the stars originally who had them taken off, get them put back on. Essentially, this Sylvester guy makes a ton of money, and they don't have any money anymore. Why are we talking about that? I think that's what we do. We all have this thing inside of us that wants to be a part of something bigger than us.

We all want to belong somewhere. That's a good thing. God put that there. We pervert it. What happens is we don't know where to belong, so we try to belong to the same things. If you ever heard my testimony, I always describe the high school years as identity crisis. Essentially it means me trying to fit in with the cowboys, the thugs, the skaters, and the smart guys. I definitely didn't fit in there.

Wherever I could get in, right? We're all just trying to fit in. We're all trying to belong somewhere. If we're honest, even the most secure of us in the room have insecurities about not belonging somewhere. We do all sorts of weird things to try to belong somewhere. We join sororities, fraternities. This happens young with Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. You have honor societies.

You have Rotary Club. You have all sorts of weird, strange clubs out there. You have the Freemasons. You have all these things that people will join just to belong to something. Athletic club teams, alumni, right? Here is the deal. Then what happens is once we're there, we begin to find identity in that thing that we're a part of.

To keep the value of that high we, like the Star-Belly Sneetches, hold those without at a distance. We say, "You can't be a part of us. No, no, no. Because this is an elite club. This is what I associate with. This is what I am familiar with. This is what I identify with. Now you can't be a part of it."

We hold others at bay so that what we're a part of becomes more valuable, more prestigious, more elite. Then what always happens… You have seen this over and over and over. Then you have the Haves and the Have Nots. What is really strange in this is when it comes into our churches. We want to belong to a church.

That's why God put that thing there. That we would be a part of a body. Then we belong to a church. We start to size up churches and teaching. We're like, "I like this music over here." Really in Dallas, you have a buffet of churches to choose from. You start to choose based on what's good for you. You become a consumer, not a contributor.

When I say contributor, I'm not talking about financially. I'm talking about this idea that you exist for the church. Instead, you look at the church and you think that it exists for you. Then as soon as you don't like the church, we hop because we're church shopping. Then we're church hopping. Then some of us are like, "We're over it."

Our generation has all of a sudden raised up and we're like, "Who needs to be a member anyway? What is membership anyway? Is that even biblical?" Even worse, then we start to size people up within the church. We say, "I've been through CR. Have you been through CR? Have you been through re:gen? You do Community? I do Discipleship. Oh, what? How many Scripture verses have you memorized?"

We try to make people feel insecure based on what they don't have and what we do have. That was never Christ's desire. That was never what Christ intended to happen. That there would be this sizing up in the church. That's ridiculous. Ridiculous. Tonight I want to talk about what it means to be a member of the club.

What does it mean to be a member of the club? Specifically, how do we become members? We're going to look at even more specifically what Jesus came to abolish and then what he built up. What he does away with and then what he builds up. We have been in Ephesians. Last week we covered verses 1 through 10.

Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance." Verse 11 is going to start, "Therefore…" Paul, to the church at Ephesus, is saying, "Hey, God saved you, for it is by grace you have been saved." That's Ephesians 2:8 and 9.

Then 2:10. "For you are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do these good works, which God has prepared in advance foryou to walk through, or to walk in." Then he says, "I want to look back with you for a second, Ephesus. Ephesians, let's look back. Don't forget where you came from, man. Don't forget where you came from." He says,

"Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called 'uncircumcised' by those who call themselves 'the circumcision' (which is done in the body by human hands)—remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world."

He says, "Hey, you remember. You were those guys without stars. You were the Have Nots." If you are here and you are not Jewish by ethnicity, he is talking to you. What we're going to talk about tonight is the great, amazing fact that Christ has gone to great lengths to invite you in. Up until this point, there were God's chosen people, and now the gospel has spread to the Gentiles. That is most of us, certainly me.

Paul says, "Hey, don't forget. You didn't have these things. You were the uncircumcised." There were two types of people. There were those who were circumcised. They were the ones who had the physical identity of belonging to the law, belonging to God through the law, and obeying the law. Then there were the Gentiles, who were disgusting to those people.

This was a great racism. This was a tremendous prejudice. Greater than the civil rights. A tremendous prejudice is happening here. He says, "Hey, you were those without. Don't forget what that meant for you. That meant that you didn't have these things." Specifically, he talks about five things that they didn't have.

I don't know if you've ever gone somewhere and sat on the outside looking in. You were one of the Have Nots. I thought about this and what came to mind was… You remember before I was a Christian, we would go to South Padre for spring break. You would go there to worship the pagan gods. We would go to South Padre on spring break.

I remember that the cool place to be was the Radisson. Because at the Radisson you have the Coca-Cola stage. That's where MTV was. That's where everybody wanted to be. If you stayed at the Radisson, you got this little pink bracelet. We didn't stay at the Radisson. We stayed at the Motel 6 across the street.

We spent the entire spring break trying to break into the Radisson. True story. I'm talking paying off guards. I'm talking wearing masks. I'm talking scaling walls at one point. That might've happened. Really trying to get into this place. Because we were the Have Nots, man. Here's why. Because that's where life was to me. To me, that was where life existed. I wanted to get in there.

That's what happens when we're sitting outside these clubs. We're looking. People are oppressing us. Saying, "Look what we have and what you don't have. We have stars on our bellies and you don't. We have this. We have these rights and you don't. We have this relationship with God and you don't. We have this knowledge and you don't, these resources and you don't." You feel left out. If you let that go long enough, you'll do anything to get those things. He says this is the consequence of that.

First, they were separate from Christ. You didn't know Christ. Secondly, they were excluded from citizenship of Israel. They did not belong to the theocratic state of Israel. They were not a part of it. Thirdly, they were foreigners to the covenants of the promise. This is the Abrahamic covenant, the Davidic covenant, the Palestinian covenant, the new covenant.

All this means is they were not a part or aware of the promises of the Messiah to come. They didn't even know about it. They weren't a part of those covenants. Fourthly, they were without hope. This is hope of a Messiah to come. Fifthly, most desperately, they were apart from God. They were separated from God in the world. They were in desperation. They were left without hope. Verse 13. There is a huge but right there.

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself [Christ] is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations.

His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit."

My first point tonight is this. Jesus abolishes separation. Jesus will not tolerate prejudices. He will not tolerate oppression of this fashion. He abolishes separation. Jesus is often… He is a gap-filler. He steps in. He fills the gap. He bridges people. He brings things that are far near. Often when you illustrate the gospel, what do people draw?

They draw a bridge between us and God. Christ is this bridge. He makes a way. Jesus abolishes separation. You have to understand what is happening in this era. You guys have heard of the Good Samaritan? That story where the Samaritan goes and helps the person on the road? That story is so ridiculously scandalous because the Jews hated Samaritans.

The reason they hated Samaritans is because from their opinion Samaritans were half-breeds. They were Jews and Gentiles who had kids. These kids were Samaritans. Because those people represented a betrayal by their own, the Jews hated Samaritans. The Hebrew-speaking Jews would look so highly upon religion they would hate the Greek-speaking Jews, so much so that when a widow was left and in need, they would say, "We will not help her. She does not speak our language. She is not one of us."

The Jews hated the Gentiles so much that if you married a Gentile, they would have your funeral. They would hold a funeral for you. You were dead to them. Jesus comes on the scene. He sees this, and he hates it. Do you remember when Jesus turns the tables over in the temple? He comes to Jerusalem and he goes in the temple. I don't know if you're like me. Have you ever wondered what were the tables doing in the temple? There is God's house.

In my mind, I've always pictured there were the pews and there was a dude with his Craigslist ad or his garage sale or whatever it was. He is selling stuff. I'm like, "How did they even get in there? That's just crazy." It turns out that most theologians believe they weren't actually in the temple themselves. They were outside this wall called the wall of soreg.

Part of Jesus' frustrations was that they had built this wall, the wall of soreg. That was the wall that Gentiles could not cross. This was a special place where only the Jews could worship. Let me read it to you. Mark 11, verse 15. "On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts." Jesus going all Tito Ortiz on them.

"And as he taught them, he said, 'Is it not written: "My house…"'" Listen. This is what he says. "'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it 'a den of robbers.'" He is quoting Isaiah 56:7, which says, "…for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations." So part of Jesus' frustration was the very barrier where they would set up shop to sell things to those who would come in. That barrier represented a wall that Gentiles could not cross to worship.

The Romans gave the Jews the right to capital punishment for any Gentile who crossed the wall of soreg. They could be killed. Paul is arrested in Acts 21. The reason for his arrest stated that he brought Gentiles past the wall of soreg. They put him in prison. He just wrote the Bible. Jesus abolished your ability to boast in how you got in.

That's Ephesians 2:8 and 9. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast." Jesus says, "No, I let you in." Verse 15, "…by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace…"

In this section, you're going to see the word peace repeated over and over. Jesus abolished the law. Said otherwise, he made the law inoperative. The law is what separated the Jews from the Gentiles. You had the Jews, those who kept the law. Then you had the Gentiles. Those who did not keep the law. Those who were not circumcised. Those who were not concerned with what the law stated.

What purpose does the law serve for us today? The law shows us our need for a Savior, the very fact that we cannot keep the law. We need someone to save us from ourselves, a Messiah, a Christ. Jesus did not come to make the Gentiles Jews. He did not come to make the Jews Gentiles. He took these two men and made them one man.

He came to make the Jews and Gentiles Christians, Christ-followers, to raise up this new category where anyone can fit in. Asians, African-Americans, Americans, Egyptians, Palestinians, Iranians. Anyone can come in. Those who have tried to keep the law and those who have never participated in the law can come in, not by their own merit, but by what Christ has done.

By abolishing the law, verse 16, he abolished the hostility toward those on the inside for those on the outside. Because they can no longer hold the law over their heads. They can no longer oppress them with the law. He inserted peace. I just love the quote that we've said here many times. The ground at the foot of the cross is level. Anyone is welcome.

It's not by your merit. You can stop showing off your memory verses and bragging about whatever it is that you've done. How many times you've been to church or whatever. If you get in, it's Christ. It's what he has done. It's crazy. Because that's the question we always ask. Why would you get in?

People always say, "Because I've tried. I've tried to be good. I've tried to do well." That's blasphemy to the gospel. It's the equivalent of one time my buddy won the sales award. Because he won the sales award, he got to go on this trip. This trip was to Lake Tahoe. It was an amazing trip. Because he wasn't married, he invited me. We go up there.

It's this amazing trip where they even give us spending money for the day. We get to eat all this stuff and take part in all these festivities. Specifically, I remember being in the line. The guys were boasting about how they got there, what award they had won to get there. One guy looks to me and says, "What about you?" How ridiculous would it have been to say, "Hey, this is how I got here. Let me tell you all the amazing things that I did to get here."

"Dude, I just knew somebody. That's how I got here. I just knew someone. He let me in. He invited me, by no merit of my own. I just knew him. So I got here." It would be ludicrous for me to say anything other, for me to point to my own works. If you get into heaven, it is only because you have an understanding of what God has done for you through Christ and for no other reason.

Christ abolished the separation between God that sin had created between us and God. He abolished the separation between us and God that sin had created. He did this by paying the price for sin. Then he gives us his Holy Spirit. He abolished the separation between God and those who were far from God because he brings God to them. This is his Holy Spirit.

He ushers God to them. In the form of God's Spirit, he brings God to those who are far from God. He abolishes separation. Verse 19: "Consequently…" As a result. "…you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God's people and also members of his household…" My second point this evening is Jesus makes a home for us. Jesus makes a home for us.

Jesus makes a place for us to dwell. This is different than heaven. In John 14:2, Jesus says, "My Father's house…I am going there to prepare a place for you." That is different than this. This is a home here. He makes a place for you here, a place for you to belong. This is the church. The church, the bride of Christ, is meant to be (and God will make it this) this utopian place where all these different people come in and they do work and bring the kingdom here.

I know your view of church was probably this thing that maybe your parents dragged you to or maybe they didn't that maybe you had to dress up and tuck in your shirt for. You sat there and daydreamed for an hour like I did. That's not meant to be the church. The church is this place. It is your home. That's why we talk so much about membership here.

Because as I've met with so many of you who say, "I'm struggling with this. I'm sleeping with my boyfriend. I just can't get over him. I don't know what to do about this. I'm addicted to alcohol. I'm addicted to drugs. I'm addicted to sex. I'm addicted to pornography. I can't stop spending money. I have debt up to my ears. I have $50,000 in student loans or $20,000 in student loans or $5,000 in credit card debt. I just don't know what to do."

My answer… We talk through that. I'll pray for you. I'll hurt with you. But it's going to come down to the same things. Outside of knowing what Christ has done for you and pursuing a relationship with him, the second most practical thing that you can do is what I say often. It is change your playmates and your playground. Change where you hang out and who you hang out with.

Every time I say that, people come up and say, "What? I'm not supposed to hang out with them anymore? That feels like sacrilegious. What about Jesus? He hung out with the prostitutes." You aren't Jesus. You hang out with the prostitutes when you become a little more like Jesus. Right now, you are prostituting yourself. Let me take it one step further.

How? How do I change my playmates and my playground? This is how. You become a part of a church, a body. I see it over and over. I see the ones who get well. I see the ones who don't. It's like I say the same thing over and over. My heart always breaks for the guy who is like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, but what else? Oh yeah, I know to come to community, join a church. What else can I do?" Dude, you're missing it, bro. You are missing it. Stop!

Then I see the ones that come in. They're like, "What?" Dive into this place. All of sudden they're plugged in. They're serving. They're growing in knowledge and love for God. Their lives just radically change. I, by the grace of God, have a front row seat for that every single week. It never ceases to amaze me. It blows my mind the way that he changes some of your lives.

Some of you go on to be missionaries. Some of you go on to be pastors, ministers. Amazing moms, dads, husbands, wives. Some of you go on to be missionaries in corporate America, where you're just wrecking shop for the kingdom. It continues to blow my mind. That's why we talk about this. My hope is that this becomes a part of your home so that you would feel welcomed here.

I remember early on in The Porch that people would show up. The feedback we would get is, "It feels like a bunch of cliques. I just didn't feel like I belonged there." By the grace of God, we haven't gotten that in a while. I can't think of the last time I read that comment or have heard that. This is the image I want to give you.

We all know when we go to a place and we feel welcomed, right? When you go somewhere and you're like, "This person has welcomed me." You walk in and they're like, "Hey, can I get you a Coke? Whatever you want. Make yourself at home." I'll give you an example. The other day, my team and I go to dinner at Laura and John Elmore's house.

John has preached up here recently. Laura is right there and is on our staff. They do a tremendous job of making us feel welcomed. This is what they do. As soon as we pull up, they come outside and they greet us. John or Laura will go and they pour us a drink, grab us a glass of water or whatever. Bring that to us. Give us a plate of hors d'oeuvres.

Come and lead us up to a place to sit. They're like, "Hey, make yourselves at home." You feel like, "Hey, if I want to put my feet on the coffee table, I can. I feel like this is my home." They do this tremendous job. That's one thing. This is different. What if…? How crazy would it be if when we got there, John comes out and he hands me a key?

He's like, "Hey, bro, I cut you a key, man. This is yours. Go ahead and pull in the garage, man. I'm going to write you in on the deed, okay? Half of my house is now your house. Come in anytime, bro. Anytime. Don't make yourself at home; you're home. This is your home." This is what we do.

I don't care if you're Presbyterian, if you're Methodist, if you're Baptist, if you're Church of Christ, if you're Church of Christian Science, if you're Scientology (we'll pray for you). I don't care what you are. Jewish, Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, I don't care what you are when you came in here. My hope for you is that you would become a part of the body of Christ.

If you've never been to church a day in your life and you stumbled in The Porch because you thought it was the restaurant. You googled it and you show up here. Right? Maybe that is some of your story. You're here. You're like, "Okay, where are the drink specials? They have coffee. Great." We're glad you're here.

We hope that you don't just feel at home here but that you make it your home here. That you really do feel a part of a movement that is so much bigger than me or you or anybody else. It's something that God is doing through the city for the cause and the fame and the glory of Christ. Welcome home. We're glad you're here. This is what Christ does. He makes a home for us. Paul is saying to the Gentiles that Christ has given them a home. Verse 20:

"…built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit."

My third and final point is that Jesus makes a home out of us. He doesn't make a home for us. He makes a home out of us. He and the apostles, the teachings about him, the apostles, those who he got to disciple face to face in the flesh, they are the foundation. We are built up on that teaching.

I know how important a foundation is. We bought a house at foreclosure at auction. It had been vacant eight years. The main thing wrong with this house was it needed $27,000 in foundation work. People literally thought the house was condemned and unable to be repaired. We purchase it, and we go to work. All of the problems—the cracks, the doors don't shut—are all based on this foundation, what it's built on.

Jesus says his temple, God's temple, is built up on him. The apostles are the foundation and Jesus is the cornerstone. Here is what that means. Here is what a cornerstone is. In this day and time, whenever you would build a building, you would start with a cornerstone. The cornerstone was perfectly square. What I mean by square is at a perfect right 90-degree angle.

All other stones, all other bricks were stacked on top based on that cornerstone. No matter where you went around the structure, you would have to look to that cornerstone and set everything up square with the cornerstone. As you are building it, you have to constantly focus and look to and measure off of the cornerstone. That is Christ.

Then you have the apostles. Then you have us. He starts to build this temple for God. It's this incredible mosaic of all sorts of different people: tall people, short people, big people, small people, smart people, and dumb people. Those who can wakeboard and those who can't. All kinds of people: goofy people, crazy people, and funny people. He puts them all together and builds up this temple.

First Peter 2:4-5 says it like this. I'll read it to you. "As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." When we assemble together, we are stronger. This is so important. Not just so you don't have an iPod sunburn. This is important for many reasons.

This plot has been played out in all sorts of movies and cartoons. You have all these different things, people, or creatures, and when they assemble, they are stronger. "Care Bears, stare!" All the Care Bears come together, even Grumpy Bear. I have two daughters. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers do whatever they do. Transformers build Optimus Prime, or whatever that is. They come together and they build something bigger than themselves.

This plot has been played out over and over. If we come together, we're stronger. A cord of three strands is not easily broken. That you would come and that you would be the body of Christ. That you would contribute and play a role. Some of you right now, you're not playing a role. You're sitting on the sidelines. You're watching the game.

I'm saying, "Hey, get in the game. We need you." I don't know if you've been out in Dallas recently, but there are a lot of lost folks. God wants to use you. He wants to use the rest of your days. I don't know how many there are, a week, 52 weeks, 52 years. I have no clue. Whatever you have, he wants to use for him to do something ridiculously amazing. The enemy is trying to lure you away, or maybe he is trying to get you to do nothing.

For some of us, he is winning at that. He takes you in all of your different strengths. There is not one of you who is disqualified. There is not one of you who doesn't belong. You're like, "The world says I'm weird." God says, "You're his." "The world has rejected me." God has accepted you.

"The world says I can't." God says, "You can." The world says, "You won't." God says, "I will." The world says, "You are alone and isolated. You'll never make any kind of big impression or difference in this place that is incredibly lost." God says, "Watch me. I'll use you." That's what he does, all sorts of different people.

Some of you are really gifted, folks. Those are the ones I worry about. To whom much is given, much is expected. Some of you are crazy. I'll be honest. True story. God wants to use you too. He takes all kinds of bricks, man. I'm just being honest. Some of you are slow to get crazy, evidently.

God takes bricks and he starts stacking them. What is your role? You're a brick. It's humbling to be a brick. Because you get stacked on top of other bricks. A lot of people come in. They're like, "Hey, see if you can check this out. I'm great. I want to do something great. Let me do something great."

You're a brick, man. I'm a brick. You're a brick. We're all bricks. Let's start stacking. You're not a light fixture. You're not a ceiling fan. You're not wall decoration. You're a brick with the rest of us bricks. Let's get after it. Let's build something huge. We need you. We need you. Jesus abolishes separation. Jesus makes a home for us. Jesus makes a home out of us.

I hope we get the great lengths that Jesus has gone to make you a part of his home. William Barclay, a theologian, told a story about a platoon in World War II. True story. A soldier in their platoon died. He was killed in the war. They couldn't send his body home. They were at battle. They didn't know where to bury it. They couldn't do anything with the body.

They couldn't carry it with them. They couldn't send it anywhere. He had to be buried there. They found the closest church with a cemetery attached to it. They knocked on the door. The priest comes out. They said, "Sir, we have a fallen soldier here. He has died serving his country. We have no place to bury him. Can we bury him in your cemetery?"

The priest says, "Was he Catholic?" "We're not sure." They look at his dog tags. "No, sir, he was not." "I'm sorry. Our cemetery is only for church members and those who belong here. He cannot be buried in the cemetery, but you can bury him outside the cemetery, and I will see to it that the grave is tended to." They said, "Thank you, sir."

They went outside the fence. They dug a hole. They buried their dear friend and partner in war. Then they went back to fighting. Before they returned home to their families, they all decided that they wanted to pay homage or respect to their fallen friend. They returned to his grave site, only to not find it.

They can't find it anywhere. They're tracking up and down the fence. They don't see it. They go back to the front and they knock again. The priest comes to the door. They said, "Sir, do you remember us? We buried our friend here, and we're looking for his grave. We are unable to find it."

The priest says, "When you left, I just couldn't sleep. I kept thinking about how this man had died serving his country and I didn't give you a good place to bury him. It bothered me. I had to do something about it." They said, "So you moved the grave?"

He said, "No, I moved the fence." He took that fence and extended it post by post past that grave to make that person a part of the others. Christ moved the fence. Here is the problem with that. Once you're dead, it's too late to be a part of what he is offering you. What he has to offer you is for the living.

He offers you life. He moved the fence. He went to great lengths to make you a part of something bigger than yourselves. You only need to acknowledge what he paid to make that happen. Then dive in. Dive into your church. Dive in where you are. Dive in with us. Dive in here. Dive in. Let me pray.

God, our Father in heaven, we are tremendously grateful for all that you've done to show that you love the whole world, that you gave your only begotten Son, your only Son. That whoever believes in him shall not perish, shall not die, but will inherit eternal life, life forever, life everlasting with you.

God, stir in the hearts of my friends. Give them a vision and a passion to want to make your name famous in this place, in this city, in this nation, and in this world. God, help us not to live lame lives but lives sold out for you. Thank you for the great God that you are. In Christ's name, amen.