Monday, September 16, 2013

Becoming an outsider

"Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. ... In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.

... So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit."

I have two favorite words in that message: Outsiders and becoming. Probably not the two most important words you'd choose, but they remind me of what God has done to me and for me.

I used to be an outsider. Before I followed Christ, I was on the outside of God's kingdom.

But then I let Christ in my life.

I nailed some sins to a wooden cross at a retreat that changed my life, symbolic of what Jesus did for us. I was a new person that day, even though in the days, weeks, months and even years following I was tempted by my old ways. I wanted to be selfish, with my time especially. I figured I had it all under control, playing God with my life and those I love most. My timeline seemed perfect and I tried to fit God in a box on my calendar.

But, still, I was a new creation who God has always managed to hang on to, no matter how hard I tried to rest in what used to be. I was no longer an outsider to God's kingdom, even on the days I had to be drawn back in by the One who really is in control of my time, relationships, and days.

For me, this walk with God that began 17 years ago really has been about becoming. Yes, I can pinpoint when I decided to follow Christ. But God didn't perfect me that night. He saved me. He rescued me. And I started allowing my love and devotion to God factor into my decisions.

I've walked some roads with God since, each one shaping me and perfecting me. We're still not to the ultimate destination, but I'm becoming more like God intends me to be. I'm finding that more and more of my decisions are affected by the Christ who carried all my sins to the cross with him and the God who continues to pour down grace.

This morning so many decisions and conflicts and situations and circumstances and relationships came to mind as I thought about these verses from Ephesians I'm studying this week in our HelloMornings group. I realizing what began as a journey on the outside of God's kingdom into his presence has been about becoming an outsider to this world. Becoming reminds me salvation can come in an instant but maturing in Christ is a process.

Lately, I've felt like I've had to bear down and protect my family from philosophies and practices and habits that don't line up with God's word. I've vented frustrations of what people do and say to my husband. I tell my daughter about how what we chose to isn't always the same as what her friends choose to do. I've poured out a broken heart to friends who will listen. I wonder how I can raise generous children in an indulgent, entitled society.

Of course I have these struggles. Of course I know friends who are hunkering down and protecting their families. Of course there is a tension between this world and the one for which we're longing. We were once outsiders to God's kingdom, but now we're outsiders to this world. Life is about becoming that way. Because this is where God dwells. 

I'm linking up with Jen Ferguson's Soli Deo Gloria party, Jennifer Dukes Lee's tribe of storyellers for #TellHisStory, and the HelloMornings blog. 

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  1. "And I started allowing my love and devotion to God factor into my decisions." This phrase really gives a handle to what discipleship and becoming more like Christ is like...thank you for reminding me that my growth in Christ happens one decision at a time and the best decisions are rooted in love and devotion to God.

  2. KristinHillTaylor9/16/2013 9:51 PM

    I've needed the reminder myself, so I'm glad you benefited too, Kel. Thanks for visiting. :)

  3. Wow. Yes. Why do I so often forget this? He knew I needed to hear this tonight. Thank you sweet, wise friend. xo

  4. Great post!! It is a struggle especially to raise kids in this world...we just need to keep pointing them to Jesus because He is the way! And we can celebrate a little knowing that this life is a mere second in light of the eternity we will have with God. So grateful for that today as well!!

  5. KristinHillTaylor9/17/2013 8:19 AM

    I forget it sometimes too. But, geez, this explains so much of the tension I sometimes feel in my life. Thanks for coming by!

  6. Yes -- you know, I think it is a daily balancing act sometimes -- how to be in the world but not of the world. How do we love purely, authentically, and genuinely in a wold that doesn't usually return the favor? I think the answer lies in just what you have written -- by becoming more like Christ.

  7. KristinHillTaylor9/17/2013 12:23 PM

    Yes, truly a balancing act. We can't be so far out of touch with this world that we don't work on loving it and pointing people to Jesus. So thankful for grace, especially with this one. :)

  8. KristinHillTaylor9/17/2013 12:23 PM

    Thanks, Kristin! So much truth in your comment. Your continually encouragement is a blessing.

  9. Kristen,
    I love how you picked "outsider" and "becoming" is such a process to let Christ live more and more inside of us and that often means we will live differently...and we love because we want those outside of God's love to come inside and experience His love for themselves.

  10. KristinHillTaylor9/19/2013 6:54 AM

    Yes. And amen. Good to see you here, Dolly.