(Not) In the Office: Brought Near

My wife and I had been scheduled to take a few days of vacation right about now; but the convergence of several factors forced the cancellation of those plans. Fortunately, we will have the opportunity to compensate with a little extra “family time” today. But before we head out, a brief thought…

In today’s Daily Office from the Book of Common Prayer, I’m reminded that my awareness of God’s promises and my reception of God’s grace depends not on my merit but on God’s determination to “bring near” those who are at a distance from Him. As Paul puts it in his epistle to the Ephesians:

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. (Eph. 2:11-13, NLT)

I deserve to be an outsider. I’ve got no claim on God’s faithfulness…no right to be counted among His people. In the grand sweep of things, I was born in the wrong place – at the wrong time – and among the wrong group of people. But because God was determined for me to be “brought near” – because it was His purpose to create “one new people” (v. 15) through the cross of Jesus – “Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us” (v. 18).

Who are the “outsiders” with whom you’ll come in contact today? Will they be people of a different race, a different cultural background, or a different political persuasion? What difference would it make to know that it is God’s intention to make them “insiders” – and that you might be the one He’s chosen to bring them near?

May we be messengers of God’s boundary-breaking and reconciling love today. Amen.

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