What does an African, Asian, Hispanic and Caucasian have in common?
Oneness in Christ. Eph. 2:14,15
He, Christ united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us…. creating in himself one new people from the two groups.
Paul understood the work of God in Christ was complete, the wall of hostility that separated people was torn down and God has created one new people. Paul wrote to the Ephesians because the challenges of being one Church living in unity was difficult. People find it much easier to separate one from for any number of reasons, i.e. religious upbringing, ethnicity, heart language, social status, educational level. The Ephesians were seeing that it was much easier to live with and worship with people who were alike. Paul had become aware that some were encouraging people in the Church to divide one from another, to divide the church because of these differences. So Paul writes to emphasize what Christ did, “he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us” and we are live in unity.
Today it is common for people to separate one from another, to divide the Church because of our differences. More recently this division has been encouraged with claims that division is beneficial for the Gospel, beneficial for the Church to grow and be healthy. The Apostle Paul disavowed this belief and now God is using Paul’s letter to challenge us, to exhorts us as a Church to live in unity.
Eph. 4:1 Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.
Paul’s call for us today is to “live a life worthy of our calling”. God has broken down the the barrier, the wall of separation is torn down. As one writer1 has stated, for us to not to live in unity is to disfigure the work which God had completed and is to declare that His sacrificial death by which our relationship with God and with others are restored are of no real consequence to us.
(1 Peter O’Brien PNTC, The Letter to the Ephesians)
Make every effort to live a life worthy of your calling.
Eph 3:17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love.
That Christ may dwell in your hearts. Here Paul is saying that for the reason that they are now accepted by God, for God has broken down the dividing wall between the Jews and the Greeks and they are no longer separated from Christ but are now Children of God for God Himself is our peace, He has reconciled both to God His work on the cross. For for this reason Paul has surrendered his life to Christ and for this reason he is now praying that Christ will dwell in their hearts, that they will submit their lives to Christ allowing Christ to dwell thru faith in their hearts, where Christ become rooted and grounded in LOVE. Agape Love. A Love where a person not self seeking but is living self-sacrificial to serve others. I love the way the NLT put it, “Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.”
Paul realized that the worries and challenges of the day can keep Christ from at bay (to prevent someone from approaching or having an effect). Our choice in life will keep Christ from making his home, keep him from dwelling in our hearts.
Paul is not saying God is limited. No, Not at all for Paul declares: “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us”, Eph. 3:20 God is not limited by what He can do, but we can limit God as to what He can do in and thru us. We limit God by our unwillingness to allow Christ to dwell in our hearts.
God’s challenge: is Christ a guest or is taking up residency, is Christ dwelling in your heart?
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, we find one word in 3:10 translated as “rich variety, manifold, multifaceted”. It is a word the translators struggled with as which word would best describe the meaning of the Greek word “Polupoikilos” which means a wide variety of colors like what is used in a painting.
So let’s read this passage with this understanding above.
Eph. 3:10 God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all.
“Polupoikilos” is the same word is used in the Greek Septuagint, a translation of the Bible that was written in Hebrew to best describe the varied colors or many colors of Joseph’s coat.
Gen. 37:2-3 Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers. …Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors.
So the picture we see in the letter of Ephesians is that God destroyed the dividing wall between the ethnic groups, the Jews and Greeks and He made them one. So through this passage then we discover that God’s purpose is best seen in the church, the Church that is “Polupoikilos”, a church varied in color. It is though the Church, God intends for the world to see and know about Him.
The NLT states it beautifully “God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all” a Church that is varied in color, Jew and Greeks, but united as one in Christ.
The Church is to be the picture of who God is, How God acts and reacts. So we could say that for the World to see and know God, they will do so through the Church. The Church is you and I. The Church is you and I not as individuals but coming together in unity, celebrating our Diversity, our individual uniqueness created in the likeness of God.
No longer Exiles?
Eph. 2:19 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… Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone.
Exiles, the term means that a person is no longer being welcome in their home country. God tells that when place our faith and trust in God, we are no longer wandering exiles, we are no longer foreigners or outsiders, strangers to God. God’s home is our home. Because of what Jesus did on the cross, we have been given an invitation by God to make our Home Heaven. While we are here on earth, God is building, God creating us to be God’s building, God’s temple, a place where God dwells, a place where God makes His home. What great news. What I notice is that I am being called to make myself available to God and it is God who is the one responsible for building, the recreating in me, transforming me to be God’s temple.
Some have been told that I no longer need to attend Church, that all God wants is for me to believe and pray and God is pleased. But this not true. Let us look at this passage in another version, "20 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.Together we are his House. Not separately, but together. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.Together, this is God’s design. God is not building a dwelling place thru individuals but through his Church."