“That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.”
At New Heart, Pastor Ben is calling us to be a church that proclaims boldly and selflessly that “you are no longer wandering exiles”. We are no longer a people that are defined by our searches for love and fulfillment, or the failures that inevitably follow. No longer are we foreigners or even strangers. We are, every single one of us, grafted into the Body of Christ the second that we say “yes” to Jesus himself. We are a part of His family. How, then, can we ever be content with the life of an exile again? And more than that, how can we ever be okay with letting anyone else live that life?
Church is not meant to be “private property”. It is not meant to be a place where some people belong, and others don’t. We continue to close the doors to our churches while all the while God is opening them and calling people in. Pastor Ben is so right when he says, “Our church will never be exclusive because God is not exclusive.”
Pastor Ben explains that when Paul wrote the letter to the Ephesians, the things that he said about God building a new home were shocking. For years and years, the lives of the Ephesians had been centered around the Temple. Parties, annual festivals, religious observances, and everyday worship were held within the four walls of the Temple at all times of the day, week, month, and year. The Temple was “it” when it came to God’s home; after all, that’s where God promised to dwell, right?
But Paul knew that God had a bigger plan than to just house himself in a stone building. God is not after grandeur or beauty or comfortable housing: He is completely dead-set on running after the hearts of His people, day in and day out. So when Paul proclaimed to the Ephesians that “God [was] building a home,” he meant it wholeheartedly. God was and is building a home made up of the children of His kingdom, and we are all called to be His building blocks.
In light of that truth, New Heart is setting out to be a church that is defined not by the greatness of its facilities, nor the talents of its congregants. We are setting out to be a church known for its kindness, love, genuineness, and authenticity when it comes to our acceptance of each other. We are setting out to truly be God’s home.