Ephesians 2:11-22: How Do We Have Racial Reconciliation?
June 4, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
At the start of chapter 2 of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Paul described the beauty and power of the gospel. But what are the practical implications of this gospel for how we live? The massive implication that Paul focuses on here is that in Christ, both Jew and Gentile are united.
As he puts it:
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14).
This is a wonderfully sounding ideal—racial reconciliation across all nations—but how come we see so little of it today? And how can we see even more of it than we are seeing, for we do see it happening in the church globally?
First, Paul tells them to “remember.” The reason why this is so important is that the racial reconciliation is not something that we create, it is something that Christ has done. Therefore, we need to remember it. We are not called to create unity; we are called to remember unity. We are not called to establish our unity; we are called to reflect the unity that is established. Christians do not have to force together other Christians to make some Frankenstein monster of unity; no, we are united in Christ. What we must do is remember this fact. Remember it when we come across other matters that might divide us. Remember it when we are faced with conflicts that threaten to separate us. Remember it when we are driven apart by personality differences, strategic differences, even racial differences. Christ’s blood on the cross has made us one. He has destroyed the barrier. Remember that.
And “consequently,” of course, we are to live in the light of that unity that Christ established. How?
Note the language that Paul used. We are not “foreigners and strangers”; we are “fellow citizens” and “members” of God’s household. We are one in Christ; therefore, we should speak of each other as one in Christ and use language that reflects that unity.
Note the doctrine that Paul affirms. This unity is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.” There is no real unity in doctrinal minimalism. Unity is encouraged through increasingly thinking as Christ thinks, which comes about as we learn from the Bible as it is taught by God’s messengers.
Note the person upon which Paul is focused. “Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” A church that focuses upon Christ and elevates him will find that other points of difference fade into insignificance beside the majesty of the Lord. When the Son of Man is lifted up, he will draw all people to himself.
Note the animating power which Paul relies upon. “You too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” We rely upon the work of the Spirit to soften our sharp edges, to sharpen up our dull wits, to give us clear heads and soft hearts (not hard hearts and soft heads), and to form us more after the image of Christ, and therefore more nearly united to one another in Christ.
So, racial unity is established by the gospel. It is something that Christ has done. We therefore need to remember this fact.
Then racial reconciliation is further encouraged by the proclamation of the gospel. Which means thinking of us now as united and using language that reflects that reality. It means the central place of Bible teaching and biblical discipleship. It means a constant focus upon Christ above all. It means the empowering presence of the Spirit.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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