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Description: Because we are all in Christ, the barrier has been broken down between 'them and us' - witnessing is more personal rather than trying to convince them.
Jesus is Kind to the Ungodly!
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
The verse that we’re studying today is Ephesians 3:6 and I can get you right in media’s rays right
into the middle of it very fast. Ephesians 3:6 you can see reads, “That is, how the Gentiles are
fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the
gospel.” You’ll be interested to know, as I was, when I looked up the Greek that the word for
Gentiles is “enthos”. It’s a Greek word “ethnos”. You can see what it becomes in English, have you
eaten any ethnic food lately? Is that friendly food? No, that’s food from the other side of the
world, that’s them.
It’s interesting that it’s Gentile food and it has come really to mean, for us, not the food of our
friends but the food of not necessarily our enemies, but those from other countries. And so often,
that has been the attitude that we have probably taken to those that are not Christians. We think
they’re the ethnic people, they’re the Gentiles, they’re the people who are out there, not at all
the attitude of our Father obviously, not at all his attitude.
Very clearly and I’d just ask you to look at it again, because it really is an important verse and
it’s 2 Corinthians 5:14 and it is the expression of God’s attitude to the Gentiles, to the
non-Christians, to the people from the other side of the tracks. 2 Corinthians 5:14, “For the love
of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died.”
And you would like to change that to, “One has die for the Christians, therefore all the Christians
have died.” Or, “One has died for the sanctified, therefore all the sanctified have died.” Or,
“One has died for all the believers, therefore all the believers have died.” But there it is, and
you just cannot change God’s word like that, because we are convinced that one has died for all
therefore all have died. And that means of course, the Gentiles, and it means the non-Christians,
it means our customers.
I know I know how difficult it is. I think he’s probably dead now any way Bin Laden, but Bin Laden,
you know. If Christ has died for all, then all have died. And if they are not living in all that
God has done for them, it’s because they don’t recognize the reality that they are in, but this
states very clearly that Christ has died for all therefore all have died. And that means that all
that we have is really theirs.
Now that is of course, the whole spirit of Luke which I think Luke 6 fits the lesson we read this
morning and it’s the piece of New Testament that we all had trouble with, I’m sure, as teenagers. I
certainly had in the little Christian Endeavors Society, we’d read this and interpret it always as
this is the ideal you know, but of course it’s utterly impractical in today’s world and yet it’s the
whole spirit of 2 Corinthians 5:14. It’s the whole spirit of the attitude these are my brothers and
sisters, these are not my enemies. “I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who
hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To him who strikes you on the
cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.
Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again.
And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.” And we always looked that and said,
“Well, that’s ridiculous. I mean, you’d have no clothes left if you did that.” So it’s not meant
to be practical.
However you argue about the practicality of it, what we did with our interpretation was is we
eliminated that from the Bible. We eliminated that attitude. We said, “Now, that’s true we ought
to try to love our enemies. We ought to try to do good to those who would do evil to us. We
certainly – that ought to be our aim in life and our attitude.” But in our practice we just
rejected that as a spirit that either was impractical in today’s world or that we had not reached
yet. But you can see the sense of it when Jesus goes on in verse 32, “If you love those who love
you, what credit is that to you?” And yet we often think that obeying Christ is loving others. No,
obeying Christ is loving those who don’t love you, those who even hate you.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love
them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners
do the same.” Even ordinary people who don’t know Jesus are kind to those who are kind to them it’s
kind of automatic almost. We know it’s something we use in education. It’s something we use in
business. If somebody is good to you, you ought to be good to them and we often say that almost as
if it’s a Christ like thing to do and of course, Jesus is saying, “No, this is a sinner thing to do.
This is what ordinary sinners do who don’t know me at all. They’re good to each other and because
they’re good to each other they return that goodness.” And verse 34, “If you lend to those from
whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as
much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your
reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and
Isn’t that amazing? He is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish and then of course, I mean, our
hearts just leap within us because we realize, “Like us? Like us? He is kind to the ungrateful.
Oh, ungrateful people like us? Selfish people like us?” Yes. “Be merciful, even as your Father is
merciful.” And it all stems, you know, from 2 Corinthians 5:14 really. If Jesus died for all then
all died, then everybody that we meet has been crucified with Christ, then God’s power in
restraining what they can do to us is effectual. So we need not fear enemies, we need not be afraid
of people who would take advantage of us, we are in the hands of our Father who has included them in
his Son’s death and has already surrounded them so that he has protected them in many ways, and he
has protected us from them. But that’s why the whole spirit of those verses is possible, because
those verses are built on the assumption that somebody else is looking after you, that you do not
have to defend yourself, or protect yourself against these people who would do you harm.
So in a way you know, it’s a leap out into a different kind of life. It’s a leap out into a life 10
or 12 feet above the earth. That’s what God is talking about here and that’s what he’s getting over
to us when he says, “The Gentiles, the people who even do not believe in me, they are,” and then
just look at it again Ephesians 3:6, it’s so extreme that you have to read it to be sure it’s in the
Bible, “That is, how the Gentiles are fellow heirs.” They are heirs with us. We are heirs of
Jesus. We inherit all that he has, so do they. “Members of the same body,” but that’s what it
says, it throws you back to the verse in Corinthians, “You are the body of Christ and individually
members of it,” and these Gentiles are members of the same body, “And partakers of the promise in
Christ Jesus through the gospel.” One of his promises is, “I go to prepare a place for you that
where I am there you may be also,” they are partakers of that promise. They were included in Jesus
when he died and they therefore are partakers of that promise.
I’ve said this to you before, but I don’t know that you have really caught it, it’s well known in
theological circles because we talk about how the Catholic Church has an inclusive attitude to the
world. Now, we can see and the Pope himself would admit that in many ways, it hasn’t an inclusive
attitude and it has failed in relationship to the Jews to have an inclusive attitude. But it comes
through the whole teaching of the Catholic Church that everybody is included in some way in what
Jesus has done. And indeed, that probably carries on in the emphasis of parishes in the Anglican
Church where they talk about, “I live in this parish,” even if you don’t go to church at all, even
if you have no belief in God, you live in that parish because the church did have an attitude of
It had an attitude that Christ had died for all therefore, all have died and that everybody
therefore is in the position where they can experience what we have experienced of Christ in our
hearts. And so they’ve had an attitude of inclusiveness as opposed to what tended to be a
development, a wrong development of the evangelical church after the great awakenings in the 18th
century, after those great awakenings where people like Wesley emphasized, “For all, for all, my
Savior died.” Then there came an emphasis on, “Yes, but for that to be real in your heart you need
to believe and you need to have a real relationship with Jesus.” And that very easily has slid into
a kind of exclusivity which has the attitude not that everybody is included but only those who
believe are included. And then the emphasis came on do you believe and do you believe the way you
ought to believe? And so the stress came on – strangely enough it came full circle because the
Catholic Church itself got into works and in many ways the Evangelical Church got back into works
because it got an emphasis on what you do is almost more important than what God has done to you in
Jesus. And so here God is presenting to us again with the fact that, “The Gentiles, even the
Gentiles are partakers of the promises and even the Gentiles were in my Son when he died and he felt
their pains and carried their sins.’
And of course, that’s what came home to me during that hymn it seemed as if Jesus himself pleads
with all of us, “I have died for you. I bore you in myself. I bore every little thing that you
ever suffered and I bore the strain and the stress that you have wrought upon my Father and that you
have wrought on all your children, on all your brothers, your sisters, your fathers, your mothers,
on everybody that you have done harm to, I have borne that in my own heart.” It’s as if Jesus is
saying that and when we go into an ordinary customer in a store, we are facing part of Christ and he
said that, “In as much as you do it to one of the least of these, you do it unto me.” And so when
we meet them, we’re not meeting people from the other side of the tracks, we’re not meeting people
who are not Methodists, or aren’t Catholics, or aren’t Christian Corps people, or aren’t Christians,
we’re meeting people who have taken part with us in our Savior. Who have been included by him in
his death; who are known by him and who are loved deeply by him. So we are going to our friends.
Now, this is what I’d say to you, they know if you think of them as their friend – as your friends,
or if you don’t. They know that. They know if you regard them as equal to yourself and part of the
same thing as you belong to. And if you say, “Oh well, we could give them a wrong idea of
themselves,” it’s not for us to do that. That will be the judge on the last day, he will do that.
Our job is not to put them right as to where they belong, or where they don’t belong. Our job is,
as Paul himself said, “From now on therefore, we know no man from a human point of view. We look
upon nobody from the point of view of their outward humanity. We look upon everyone as they really
are, people for whom Christ has died and who have died with Christ.”
It seems that that’s where the power comes from. As Wigglesworth looked upon a person who needed
healed, he saw them not as a person outside Jesus, but a person inside Jesus who had been healed by
his stripes. And so it was his faith in what God had done in Jesus that enabled the healing to be
manifested here in this century. And so I think it is with us. And I think you feel that yourself.
There’s something dead about an argument with them on whether the Bible is the word of God.
There’s something dead and dry about an argument with them about why they should believe in God.
But there’s something very warm and alive in your own attitude of love and acceptance that comes
over to them so that often – I certainly have seen it myself, often it works magically because where
they would normally swear, something kind of holds them.
Something kind of holds them back and they actually are on their best behavior and so it’s true that
where you allow Jesus himself to shine forth, in all his love and all his kindness, and all his
mercifulness, and his acceptance of them, somehow they are touched by that bigness of heart, that
magnanimity and they sense, “Ah, this person’s kind of different,” and they open their hearts to the
flow of Jesus’ life from you and that’s of course, the only thing that will change them, the only
thing that will touch them. But it seems to me that it’s worth taking that verse and having it in
our memories as we go into the stores and realizing, “This person is a member of the same body, a
fellow heir, a partaker off the promise in Christ through the gospel.” Thank you Lord. Hello Mrs.
Stevens. Let us pray.
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