Ephesians 2:11-22, Galatians 3:23-29, 6:15, Psalm 118:22, 1 Corinthians 3:16
The news can be really hard to watch. Tension, war, division, oppression, suffering— they overwhelm us, and the combination can overshadow our lives and our faith.
The Ephesians knew this tension too. Paul’s letter was written to be circulated among small groups of believers scattered throughout what is now modern-day Turkey. It was a culturally diverse area, and the tensions that came with this inherent diversity may have easily overshadowed the small churches there.
Yesterday, we read that we are God’s workmanship, His poiēma. Lest we be too individualistic, in today’s reading, Paul calls us back to the reality of the body of Christ. We are different, but we are one.
Paul draws out two key factors of this unity.
- Christ brings peace where there was division.
In verse 13, he states, “But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah.” “Messiah” was a Jewish term; however, Paul was writing to an ethnically mixed audience of both Jews and Gentiles. He points out that Christ Jesus brings the two together. Not only this, in the following verse he says that Christ is our peace and has torn down the walls of hostility (Ephesians 2:14). We are not called to be homogenous, we are called to peace—peace made possible in Christ.
This is a daunting task, but God always provides where He has called. In verse 18, we see the unifying power and work of the Spirit. In the magnitude of the gospel, differing cultures and ethnicities are made fellow citizens by the unifying and redeeming work of Christ Jesus. Unity comes by His provision, but it is also part of His provision. We need the body of Christ to fulfill the call of Christ.
- Christ is our cornerstone.
Paul then illustrates that each of us, as God’s workmanship, is part of the grander work of the Kingdom. Christ Jesus is the cornerstone on which this work is built.
The gospel is about the redemption of all things in Christ. Our personal salvation is a critical part of this great work, but not the only part. The gospel is much bigger than us— it’s about all things being reconciled in Christ. As believers we are “being built together for God’s dwelling place in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:21).
We are all made one to glorify the One who redeems and reconciles us, who has crafted us into His workmanship. May we strive towards this unity, for in it we find the provision to live as God has called us.
written by Britton Sharp