One In ChristRev. Philip Miller | May 14, 2023
Selected highlights from this sermon
Salvation works on both a vertical and a horizontal axis—like a cross. Salvation reconciles us with God, and it reconciles us with one another. Salvation isn’t just about “I and me” It’s about “us and we.” In this message, Pastor Miller will show us the glorious truth of what that salvation means for our relationships with one another and with God.
Earlier this year, I had the chance to ski at Whistler-Blackcomb Mountain in British Colombia for the very first time. And I will never forget when we left the chairlift and they dropped us at the very top of the mountain—it was just stunning, mountain range after mountain range, snow-capped peaks going out as far as the eye could see. Peak after peak, ridge after ridge, vista after vista, grandeur after grandeur. And it was just enchanting.
And you know we’re in Ephesians. Ephesians feels a little bit like that to me. It’s like with each paragraph, each successive section of the book we’ve got grace upon grace, and wonder upon wonder, and grandeur upon grandeur. It just keeps getting better. And it’s enchanting.
Last week we saw in Ephesians 2, verses 1 through 10, how God has made us alive in Jesus Christ by His grace. When we trust and give our lives to Jesus as our Savior and Lord, when we trust in His life, death, resurrection, and ascension on our behalf, in His mercy, love and grace, God makes us alive with Christ forever. God has saved us and made us right with Him forevermore. Amen? It’s glorious.
And now today we come to the back half of Ephesians, chapter 2, verses 11 down to 22. And we’re going to see the glorious truth of what that salvation that God has wrought in our lives means for our relationships with one another, because salvation works not just vertically in our relationship with God. Salvation has a horizontal dimension as well. So, in salvation we are made right with God, reconciled to Him, and we are reconciled with one another in the body of Christ. There’s a vertical and a horizontal dimension. Salvation is shaped like a cross, you see. It’s shaped like a cross. And salvation makes us right with God and with one another. So, the issue is not just about I and me. It’s about us and we.
First John 4, verses 19 to 21, says this: “We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
You see the vertical horizontal cruciform cross-shaped salvation that is ours. Love God and love people. The first half of Ephesians, chapter 2, is all about our relationship with God. The second half is all about our relationship with one another. So, salvation works both ways.
Grab your Bibles. We’re going to be in Ephesians, chapter 2, verses 11 down to 22. If you want to grab the pew bible there, you can pull it out and turn to page 976 over to 977; 976 to 977.
Ephesians 2, verses 11 to 22. If you’ll listen as I read, this is the Word of the Lord.
“Therefore, remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So, then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
Thanks be to the Lord for the reading of His Word.
I want to sort our thoughts into three buckets this morning. We’re going to see alienation, reconciliation, and incorporation. Okay? Lots of “tion” words. Alienation reconciliation, and incorporation. Let’s use that as our outline.
Would you bow your heads. Let’s pray and let’s ask the Lord to be our teacher.
Father, I pray that you would break down some walls today, walls that we erect in our hearts and in our minds and in our culture, in our city, in our neighborhoods. Father, would you show us who this family is that you have made us a part of by grace? You are doing something amazing in your church. Help us to live into it and discover the unity we have that defies all earthly bounds. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen. Amen.
All right, first alienation. Alienation. Chapter 2, verse 11, “Therefore, remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called the uncircumcision by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands…”
Pause for a second. We need to orient ourselves. What on Earth is going on here? You will recall that the Ephesian church was made of up of two primary groups. You had the Jewish believers in Messiah Jesus, who were following Jesus, so they had moved from the old covenant, a Jewish state, to the fulfillment that was found in Messiah, the Jewish Messiah, Jesus. They were following Him. And then you had another group which was the Gentiles. These people used to worship their Greco-Roman gods in the temple. They lived very, you know, pagan sort of lives. They were not followers of the Old Testament.
So now you have these Gentiles who are very worldly. You have Jewish people who are very religious. And now they both are following Jesus and they’ve been merged together into this new thing called the church, the church in Ephesus.
So, the Jews were... Their lives before Christ were very different. The Jews were following the Old Testament. They were circumcised if they were male. They were part of the covenant of Abraham, going all the way back in the Old Testament. They observed the Jewish feasts. They followed the Ten Commandments. They ate Kosher diets. They tried to be ritually “clean” all the time. They took holiness very seriously. That’s the Jewish subset.
And then you have the Gentiles. And the Gentiles are living in the Greco-Roman world. And they worshiped the deities and they had followed the immoral customs of the land. They eat meat sacrificed to idols. They don’t care so much about Hebrew rituals or cleanliness. They just want to have fun in life. They take pleasure very seriously, so they sinned a lot. And it’s hard for us to understand just how much animosity and hatred there was between these two groups.
The Jews hated the Gentiles because not only were they unclean, uncircumcised dogs (That’s what they would have called them.), the Gentiles had been their oppressors for hundreds of years. And the Gentiles hated the Jews because they stubbornly refused to be assimilated to Greco-Roman culture. They were always going on about how they were God’s chosen people, which meant the Gentiles were second-class citizens. And so, after centuries of wars and sedition and simmering hatred, prejudice between these two groups (the Jews and the Gentiles) was pretty much entrenched, intractable.
And Paul says, “I want you to remember, Gentiles, how it once was before Christ. You Gentiles were called “the uncircumcision” by the ones who were called ‘the circumcision,’ the Jews.” To be circumcised was to be a part of the Abrahamic covenant. It was to be a part of God’s chosen people. It was to have access to the saving work of God in His covenant promises. And to be called “the uncircumcision” was not a compliment. Okay? That’s a diss. It’s a slur. It means you guys are estranged from the covenant. It means you guys are excluded from the people of God. It means you guys are unsavable before God.
“At one time you Gentiles were on the outs, and we Jews made sure you knew it.” That’s what Paul said. In fact, he points out that the Gentiles had five huge deficiencies spiritually speaking.
Verse 12: “Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”
Let’s look at those each in turn.
Number one, they were separated from Christ. The word for Christ here is the Greek word for the translation of the concept of Messiah. So, he’s saying, “You didn’t have a Messiah. You were Gentiles. The Jewish Messiah was not something you were looking forward to. It meant nothing to you.”
Secondly, you were alienated from the commonwealth of Israel. God had chosen Israel as his own people, His prized possession and He had given them the promised land, a place to live. And the Gentiles had no rights to any of that. Right? No rights.
Number three, they were strangers to the covenants of promise. So, God had worked His covenant blessings with His people, the promises made to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Moses and David and the covenants that God had entered into in His mercy and grace with His people. The Gentiles weren’t party to any of that.
The only way the Gentiles could gain access to the covenants of God, were that they proselytized. In other words, they had to stop being Gentiles and become Jews if they wanted to have access to the covenant blessings of God. So, if you were a male, that meant you had to be circumcised as an adult. You had to start obeying the law. You had to observe all the feasts. You had to do all the sacrifices. So, you were functionally no longer a Gentile. You became Jewish to get access to God. That’s how it worked in the Old Testament. Otherwise, Gentiles were covenant outsiders.
The fourth thing he says here is that you have no hope. No hope. It’s because without the covenant promises of God what hope do you have? Life is just what you make of it, and then you’re done. Right? No hope without God.
And then fifth, without God in the world. Without God in the world. These were idol worshipers. They didn’t worship the one true God. They didn’t know Him and so they lived like orphans in the wide world.
So, this is a pretty awful fate. Yeah?
The point is that the Gentiles were strangers to God’s covenant blessings and were despised by God’s covenant people. The Gentiles were strangers to God’s covenant blessings and were despised by God’s covenant people.
So, here’s how it used to be. You have two groups: Jews and Gentiles. Jews were in. Gentiles out. Right? And Paul says, “At one time those fleshly distinctions... You notice he modifies. Everything is by the flesh—Gentiles in the flesh, Jews in the flesh. Right? Those fleshly distinctions mattered, but no more. No more because of what Jesus has done. We go from alienation to reconciliation. Reconciliation.
Verse 13: “But now in Christ Jesus you who were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” You Gentiles used to be on the outs. You used to be far off, but now you’ve been brought near. You’re in. You’re in.
What made the difference? What made the move? The blood of Christ. “In Christ everything has changed.” By the wonder of God’s grace Paul says, “You Gentiles have been welcomed into the new covenant that is in Jesus’ blood.” You are now full members of the people of God. You’ve been welcomed in Christ as Gentiles. You came in directly. You didn’t have to become Jewish to get the Jewish covenants as Gentiles. You now come directly through Christ to God. You come by grace through faith, not by obeying the old Jewish laws, but directly in Christ by the power of His Spirit.
God has chosen you as Gentiles. He has made you alive. He has saved you by grace. He has adopted you as His child. He has united you to Christ, and sealed you with His Holy Spirit. In fact, God did everything for you Gentiles that He promised to do for us Jews when He sent Messiah Jesus to save all of us together. And to the amazement of the Jews, including Paul, you Gentiles have been welcomed in as equal partakers in God’s saving grace and covenant love.
This is amazing. As Paul says in Galatians 5:6, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything. Only faith working through love.”
First Corinthians 7:9, “Neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God.”
So, in the new covenant, that is in Christ’s blood, friends, Jews and Gentiles together are inheriting the covenant blessings and salvation of God. This is amazing. A massive shift.
Verse 14, “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.”
Now, there are three layers of imagery at work in this short little phrase. The first two have to do with the word “peace.”
This word “peace” I think is operating on both Jewish and Gentile categories at the same time. Let me explain.
So, the Jews greeted each other with a word. Right? Do you know the word? Shalom. Right? Shalom. It means peach. It means well-being. It means the world set to rights. It’s a word of brotherhood. We belong to each other. Shalom. It’s a word of hope. One day, Messiah will set all things to right in this world, and all will be well. There will be shalom everywhere. Shalom. And Paul says that shalom that creates brotherhood, that shalom that creates hope of a renewed world, that shalom is found in Jesus Christ, the Messiah who has come. He will one day reconcile all things in Himself, and right now He’s already reconciling Jews and Gentiles together in Himself. Shalom has come and His name is Jesus.
So that’s the first picture. Okay?
Now, from a Greco-Roman standpoint, when you hear the word “peace” it triggers different things because in the Greco-Roman empire, they have this thing called the Pax Romana that talks of the Roman peace. Pax Romana. And it was the idea that Caesar had brought all peoples into peace with one another in this global empire that he had made. So, all peoples from different ethnic backgrounds had now been reconciled together under the lordship of Caesar, Roman Peace. And of course, you did this through power, and coercion, and conquest. Right? It wasn’t really peace. It wasn’t really unity. It was just cessation of hostilities. Okay? And then Paul says, “I want to show you where real peace comes from. I want to show you where real unity comes from. It comes not from Caesar, but through the Lordship of Jesus Christ who sacrificed His own flesh on the cross in sacrificial love, humbled Himself to unite us all in love with one another, and bring peace. He Himself is our peace. Not Caesar. The Lord Jesus Christ. So, this peace Paul is talking about is greater than anything the Hebrew people had been looking forward to. It’s greater than anything the Gentiles have ever seen.
And now the third layer of imagery that’s at work in this statement is super fascinating. It’s in this last phrase, “He has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility,” the dividing wall of hostility. Now, if you were to go to Jerusalem at this time in the first century, the Jewish temple in Jerusalem had a series of courts around it. The outermost court was the court of the Gentiles. The Gentiles were allowed to come and approach the temple, but they weren’t allowed to get close to it. There was a little wall that separated them from coming into the inner courts of the temple. And there was a notice posted on that wall in Greek and Latin that said that Gentiles were allowed to go no further on pain of death. Okay?
So, the Law of Moses made a sharp distinction in terms of worship between the Jews who were clean and could come closer to the holiness of God, and the Gentiles who were unclean, uncircumcised, were not allowed to come into the center of the temple and into the inner courts. There was a literal dividing wall that separated Jews from Gentiles in the temple. And Paul here is... I think he has this image of the temple barrier in mind, and it has become kind of a symbolic picture for them of what Christ has done, because Christ has broken down that wall. It is drawn. The Jews and Gentiles come now in worship together. Together. They have equal access to God in Jesus Christ. There’s no more hostility. There are no more barriers. There’s no more division. He Himself is our peace. He tore it down.
How did He break down the dividing wall? Verse 15: “By abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two so making peace and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”
So, friends, the Mosaic Law from the Old Testament had all these marks of who was in and who was out. So, you had clean versus unclean. You had circumcised versus uncircumcised. You have faithful versus unfaithful. Welcome versus unwelcome.
And in Christ... What Paul is saying is, “In Christ, through His perfect life, through His atoning death, through His glorious resurrection, through His ascended exultation, Christ has fulfilled all the Law and Prophets, which means that access to God is now through Him, and through Him alone. By grace, through faith, in Christ. And so, the old distinctions of the old covenant, the Mosaic Law, of who was in and who was out, no longer hold. They are abolished. They are set aside. The only thing that matters now is who is in Christ. And if you’re in Christ, you’re in. You’re in.
As Paul writes in Colossians 2, verses 13 and 14… He says this, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. (There’s Old Testament language.) He set it aside, nailing it to the cross.”
Jesus has fulfilled all of the old covenant. So, to be “in Christ” is to be welcomed all the way in. And that’s true of Jews and Gentiles in Jesus. In fact, what God has done in Christ is amazing. He has taken two groups of people who would otherwise have never gotten along, and He made them family.
Do you see that? He took two groups of people who would never otherwise have gotten along, and He made them family in Jesus Christ.
Verse 15: “They are one new man in place of the two.”
Verse 16: “We have been reconciled to God in one body.”
Verse 17: “And he came (Jesus) and preached peace (the Gospel of peace) to you who were far off (Who’s that? The Gentiles.) and peace to those who were near. (Who’s that? The Jews.) For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.”
Do you see the Trinity here? In Christ, the Son, by the Spirit, we have access to the Father. Father, Son, and Spirit. And Jews and Gentiles together are now one new man in Christ. We have access in one Spirit to our Father.
Galatians 3, verse 28 says, “There is in Christ neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.” And here’s the point, friends. In Christ, God has reconciled Jews and Gentiles to Himself and with one another. There’s the cross—to Himself and with one another. Salvation is working on both vertical and horizontal axes. Salvation is not just for the “I and me.” It’s about “us and we.”
The same grace that reconciles us to God also reconciles us one with another. And this reconciliation is far more than a ceasefire. It’s far more than just a cessation of hostilities. It is the beginning of an interdependent and mutually loving multi-ethnic family in Jesus Christ.
From alienation to reconciliation, now to incorporation.
Incorporation: Verse 19, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”
(Laughs) Just look at all the changes that have happened. You are no longer strangers. When was the last time you used the word stranger? It was back up in verse 12. Right? “Strangers of the covenants of promise!” You promise! You are no longer strangers. You are now in the New Covenant. You belong to Jesus Christ. You have access to God.
He says, “You are no longer aliens.” When was the last time you used the word “alien”? Back up in verse 12. “You were alienated from the commonwealth of Israel.” You used to not be one of God’s chosen people. You were estranged from His promises and blessings, but now in Jesus Christ you are a chosen son or daughter of God. You are an inheritor of the blessings of Jesus. He says, “You are now fellow citizens with the saints. Fellow citizens with the saints. You belong. You’re not second-class citizens at all. You belong with the saints. You’re holy and clean and pure. You have full access to the presence of God because of the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.” He says, “You are now members of the household of God.”
This is family language. Remember we’re adopted as children of God, beloved members of His forever family. We have been welcomed to the family table. This is the picture.
Look at all these layers of imagery: from stranger to family, from alien to citizen, from sinner to saint, from outsider to member, from orphan to son and daughter in the household of faith. And he’s got one more image he wants to finish with. Look at verse 20: “...built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.”
Now, I’ve been to Jerusalem, and there’s a tunnel you can walk along, and you can actually see and touch the foundation stones of the temple complex. There’s one in there... They don’t even know how they moved it. It’s been moved and quarried. They have no idea technologically how they moved it. It’s kind of like the pyramids. How did this happen? But it weighs between 250 and 300 tons. And it’s just massive. And that’s the picture that Paul has in mind here. He says, “I want you to picture Jesus as a cornerstone, a massive block of stone, quarried perfectly, massive, foundational, and He’s right in the corner, with perfect right angle, and going out on one side you’ve got the apostles, the New Testament leaders, and they are coming in and fitting in right into the corner where Christ is. And then on the other side you’ve got the prophets, the Old Testament leaders, and the Jewish leaders who were coming in, and the cornerstone that is Christ. You have got this New Testament people, and the Old Testament people, and they are coming together, and you are a perfect foundation, built together as this temple, The Old Testament people of God, the New Testament people of God united in Christ.
“It no longer matters,” he says, “in this building... It doesn’t matter if you’re a Jew or you are a Gentile. We are all in Christ. We belong to each other.”
Verse 22: “In him you also (Gentiles) are being built together (with us Jews) into this dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
This is amazing. Friends, think about it. The very people who had to look over the wall, because they weren’t allowed anywhere near the temple, had now become the foundation stones of the glorious dwelling of God in the temple itself. We’ve become this temple. How on Earth did that happen? The Gentiles... We were far too sinful to come in. Weren’t we? Far too sinful. We have stayed away on pain of death. Ah, but Jesus brought us near on pain of death. He brought us near. “Christ died for sins, once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God.” (1 Peter 3:18)
Friends, Jesus has made full atonement in His blood. He has cleansed us of all unrighteousness, so that God may now be pleased to dwell in us through His Spirit. We are the temple of God. This is beautiful. And this multi-ethnic temple is being built up. It is being joined together, Jews and Gentiles incorporated together. Do you see the word corpus in there? Incorporated? Corpus body. Latin. Incorporated. You have been brought together in one new body, one new man, one chosen people, one family, one covenant, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, one Holy Spirit, one temple to display the glory of God to the world.
Friends, God’s glory is revealed through His multi-ethnic church. (applause) God’s glory is revealed through His multi-ethnic church.
One of my favorite passages in all the Bible is Revelation, chapter 7, verse 9, where people from every nation, language, tribe, people, are gathered together in heaven in worship of the Lamb who was slain.
Friends, do you realize it takes the glory of the crucified, resurrected, and ascended Jesus Christ to bring all these people groups together. This heavenly vision, these people who would never have gotten along any other way have now in Jesus Christ been made family.
This is amazing, and notice, friends, the oneness we have in Jesus does not erase our cultural distinctions. In heaven you will still be recognizably a part of every nation, tribe, and tongue, and people, and language. Your culture will last for eternity.
So, the way Christ brings you in and makes you one in this body of Christ is not by erasing your culture, but by giving you something bigger than your culture to come around and worship Him. Does that make sense? This is massively important. Friends, Jews are Jews forever in heaven. Gentiles are Gentiles forever. In heaven you will still be Sudanese and Iraqi and Chinese and Hispanic and Scottish and Polish and American. You will hold on to your ethnic identity. But something will outrank your tribal national markers for all eternity. You will be, above all else, in Christ as a son and daughter of God. You’ll be a part of His family. (applause) And Christ will get all the more glory for eternity because He has brought together this multi-ethnic bride that in the world could never get along, but in glory, for Jesus’ sake, have come together as one.
Christ will reconcile in Himself the things that could never get reconciled in this world. This is amazing. And here’s what’s awesome. He’s starting that reconciliation work right here, right now in His church.
Friends, the church of Jesus is called to be a place where people who would normally never get along become family in Jesus Christ. That’s why Jesus’ prayer for us in John 17:21 is “I pray, Father, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you that they also may be in us. so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
Friends, God’s glory is revealed through His multi-ethnic church when we live like family.
Friends, here’s the takeaway, bottom line. God has adopted us, so now we must adopt one another. God has adopted us, so we must adopt one another. Friends, listen to me on this. God’s family is far bigger than our natural tribes. God’s family is far bigger than our natural tribes. We all have tribes by nature. We have ethnicity, we have race, we have socio-economic strata, we have nationality, we have neighborhoods, we have political allegiances. And there are people that we feel more comfortable with, we fit in with more. And there are other people that we feel like we don’t fit in with. That’s just how the world is. We tend to split apart, and we tend to get overly prideful about our group, like we’re the best, and we tend to be overly fearful about other groups that aren’t like us. And so, we’re driven by fear and pride.
And friends, God is in the business of taking people who would never otherwise have gotten along and making them family in Jesus Christ because the Gospel (Think about it.) strips away your pride, doesn’t it? You can’t be prideful in the Gospel because you’re the chief of sinners. Right? You don’t have a leg up on anyone else. Right? We’re all saved by grace. We all get in here because of Jesus. None of us have a leg up.
So, no pride. And the Gospel counters our fear. It teaches us to love people. Because Jesus loves them, we learn to love them too. And we learn to love people who are very, very different from us because that’s what Jesus did to get this started.
Do you realize Jesus crossed the greatest cultural barriers when He left heaven to come down to Earth to love you and save you and make you His very own? Like He crossed to a different neighborhood. He crossed across the boundaries and lines. He came all the way down from heaven to Earth to rescue you. And when we were enemies, His enemies, Christ died for us. He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And with Gospel resources like that, friends, do you realize how much Christ has been willing to do to make you alive in Him? Man, you can’t hold back on this kind of stuff with other people. Right?
If He did all that... Friends, Jesus paid an infinite price to make His family, and we cannot allow human tribalism to destroy the family that God has brought together. Amen? (applause)
And friends, our world is trying to divide us. Our politicians are trying to divide us. Their whole strategy is they try to get you to identify with a group, and they say, “We’ll be your hero,” and they pit you against other groups. And that’s how they get your vote. And listen. It’s a mess. The whole world wants to divide everybody up by politics and race and class and economics and power, and pit everybody against each other. But friends, in the church, in the family of God, we have resources the world does not have. And Christ has paid far too high a price for us to tear this thing apart. What God has joined together let no one tear asunder. Right? (applause)
So, God has adopted us, and now we get to adopt one another. We must learn to love the members of God’s family who are beyond our natural tribal lines. So how do you do that? This is where it gets really, really practical. How do you put this into action? Okay? Brilliant idea. Why don’t you find somebody in God’s family who doesn’t look like you, talk like you, act like you, vote like you, and become friends with them.
We’re going to start there. And Moody Church is a great place to try that on because we’ve got people from like seventy different birth countries here. We can become a beautiful family if we would just get out of our comfort zones. I believe that God wants to do in the church something that can never happen in this world. He wants to make us a beautiful family. Will it be easy? No. Do we bring baggage? Yes.
Do you know what? You invite people to your home. You’ll spend time at their place. Be curious. Ask questions. Listen. Experience life through their lens. Show empathy. Pray with them. Love them. Advocate for them. Defend them. When your tribe acts up toward other groups of people, apologize. Make things right. Be a family with each other.
Some of the most beautiful glimpses of glory in Jesus Christ that I’ve ever seen have come from hanging out with people that are not at all like me. I have learned more about generosity and sacrifice and forgiveness and courageous faith and the all-sufficiency of Jesus by hanging out with people that have totally different lives than me, totally different backgrounds.
Friends, we need one another. We cannot see the glories of Christ by ourselves. We need the Body. We need one another. And God has adopted us, so now we’ve got to adopt one another. After all, we are one in Christ. Amen? Amen. (applause)
Let’s pray. (applause) Let’s pray.
Oh Father, would you make us one? As you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one eternal God, three in Persons, one in essence, would you bring this multi-ethnic family together in one in a way that honors the distinctions of our being in our personhood, that unites us in the essence of who we are as a family?
Father, would you teach us to live in the tenderness and glory of this call? And we confess that we have made a hash of this. Your church has just failed time and time again to live up to the call, to the prayer that Christ prayed on our behalf. But Father, just because we have been so imperfect doesn’t mean it’s not worth striving forward. Father, help us to lead the way. Father, we can’t fix the world, but we can lead the way in our own relationships, our own church family. Help us to love one another, to accept one another in Christ Jesus as you, Father, have accepted us. You have made us right with you. Now let us live right with one another. Teach us we pray in Christ’s name, Amen.