A Lesson to Be Learned
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (yes, that has been what I have been reading recently) he stresses the unity that was (and still is) to exist in the Church of Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 3:6 NET “… that through the gospel the Gentiles are fellow heirs, fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus.”
Paul repeatedly emphasizes the oneness of the Body of Christ, the Church, throughout his letter to the Ephesians. It is because Jews and Gentiles worshipping together was such miracle. A true miracle. A very public and thus noticeable miracle for all to see.
One commentary states:
“We simply do not understand the degree of separation that existed between these two groups of people. It is like saying there will no longer be blacks and whites in South Africa. It is like saying there will no longer be Catholics and Protestants in Ireland. It is like saying there will no longer be liberals and conservatives in the United States. All these people are going to be made into one.”
In Paul’s day, the animosity between Jew and Gentile was so strong that a Jewish woman would not help a Gentile woman deliverr her child, because the Jewish woman believed she was helping to bring another degraded human into the world. Jews would not even go through Samaria because it was a non-Jewish country. They would walk 150 miles out of their way — around the border — to keep from entering territory inhabited by a people they called “dogs.”
So when the gospel offered grace to all, it produced a massive shift. Suddenly, there could be no separate Jewish church, no separate Gentile church. God had only one family — and Jews and Gentiles alike had equal status. It was a truly revolutionary time in the church.
Paul writes, Ephesians 4:1-6 NET “I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you too were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
This unity among believers is a calling upon our lives as disciples and followers of the Lord. Not an option we get to choose or reject. We have a long way to go still to see this unity return to the Church today in the nations of the world. We have much to learn from the early Church…