Saint - The Death of Hostility

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, July 25, 2013 0 comments

“His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility” (Ephesians 2:15-16 [NIV]). I have to be honest with you and tell you that this week’s word, one song and two movies that came to my mind, and the Scripture that the Holy Spirit brought to me have me on a roller coaster of emotions even as I sit here and type this. At the same time, I am fired up and passionate about what God is showing me and I am ashamed of how miserably I have failed at living out what I am about to write. The hope I have in Jesus is that I don’t have to worry about the past, and neither do you. At any moment, we can simply thank God that we are still alive and we can begin to walk in that grace He has given us regardless of what has happened previously. So, understand that you are not alone if you read this and realize you haven’t been living it.

I’ll start with the song that came to my mind. It’s at least four years old, yet I still get goose bumps every time I hear “City On Our Knees” by Toby Mac. I urge you to find the song online if you have not heard it, listen to it, and read the lyrics. Here is just part of it: “Tonight’s the night, for the sinners and the saints, two worlds collide in a beautiful display. It’s all love tonight, when we step across the line, we can sail across the sea, to a city with one king, a city on our knees”. What amazing words of truth! He continues the thought later in the song: “Tonight could last forever, we are one choice from together, as family, we’re family”. I hope you’ll take a second, or a minute, or as long as it takes, and think about what it means to be united as “family”. We are all sinners, and anyone who confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and believes that God resurrected him from the dead is also a saint, according to God’s own Word. Even so, we have many differences that Satan uses to divide us. We say that we love all, yet so often we are hostile toward sinners and sometimes even saints because of actions or beliefs with which we do not agree. Maybe it’s not about actions or beliefs, but maybe you can’t let go of past hurts or frustrations. Someone has damaged you so badly that you simply want nothing to do with them.

If you haven’t seen them, I encourage you to watch two movies that I believe exemplify what it means to welcome sinners into the family of saints: “The End of the Spear” and “Grace Card”. In “The End of the Spear”, you will see what faith, love, and forgiveness can do. It’s the story of Nathan Saint (you just knew that had to be his last name) and his son. Mr. Saint was one of a group of men who traveled to the jungle of Ecuador in 1955 to share the gospel of Christ with an uncivilized tribe of locals known as the “Huaoranis”. However, in January of 1956, he and the men with him were attacked and speared by the very people they were trying to evangelize because of a misunderstanding due to the language barrier. Years later, his son, Steve Saint, was following in the footsteps of his father and continuing his ministry to the tribe when he was confronted with the knowledge that a man he had known all along was actually one of his father’s killers. The man had converted to Christianity, but Steve Saint still had to face the temptation to respond with hostility and vengeance. You’ll have to watch it to see his reaction.

A similar plot takes place in “Grace Card”, which came out just a couple of years ago. A father struggles for years with anger toward God for letting his son die from being hit by a speeding car. In addition, he battles his desire for vengeance toward the man responsible for his son’s death even though he does not know who it is. Through the help of a Christian co-worker and some other serious trials in the man’s life, he returns to his faith in God and gets a fresh start with his family. However, his biggest trial comes when he meets the man responsible for his son’s death as the man confesses after having become a Christian. How would you react in that situation? How could a man accept the one who killed his son as a fellow saint, as a “family” member?

Friends, we all have people that we would find hard to accept as members of our family of saints. Maybe they are members of your actual, biological family. Maybe it is someone who victimized you or someone you love. Then again, many of us have not had to deal with real tragedies like that in our lives. So who is it for you? Is it the pastor who let you down? Is it the fellow-Christian who is lazy or the one who just won’t give up that sinful lifestyle? Is there a drunk, a cheat, a drug addict, an abuser, or a prostitute that you simply would not be able to accept as a saint if they walked into your home or your church right now and placed their hope in Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for their sins? Paul is clear throughout Ephesians 2 that we were ALL dead in our sins at one time and far away from God, but that he has “brought us near through the blood of Christ” (v. 13). The Jews and the Gentiles had a “dividing wall of hostility” (v. 14) that had been caused by their cultures and beliefs about one another. But as the verse I quoted at the beginning says, their hostility was “put to death” by the cross. Paul goes on to say that all who have accepted the cross have become “fellow citizens with the saints and member’s of God’s household” (v. 19). No matter how bad of a sinner you think you are, God accepts you as a saint made holy by Christ’s blood if you accept it and make him Lord of your life. And no matter how good of a saint you think you are, it’s time to accept your “fellow citizens” and members of your “family” that you have previously met with hostility.