As we delve back into the Ephesians series, I want to remind each of us that in order for us to follow Jesus as a true disciple, we must be able to see Him for who He really is. Once we have a clear picture of Jesus, then we can truly understand who we are.
One of the truths that Tony Merida has already brought out in this study of Ephesians is that Jesus died in order to reconcile us to God. But Tony also points out, that another facet of Jesus’ death was to reconcile us to others.
As important as it is for us to live at peace with God (our vertical relationship), it’s vital for us to live at peace with others (our horizontal relationships). If that challenges you already, then good!
New Life In Community
When I think of rivalries, I begin to think sports. Yankees vs. Redsox. Auburn vs. Alabama. North Carolina Tarheels vs. the Duke Blue Devils. Rivalries! These are groups of people who don’t like each other. I’ll just say it out loud – they sometimes HATE each other.
When I think of rivalries, I don’t think of the church, but as some of you can attest, rivalries do happen inside the church and this weakens the church to do its purpose.
Anytime you bring people together there will be conflict, even in the church. Paul was explaining this to the church at Ephesus because there was conflict between two groups: The Jews & the Gentiles. (Gentiles are non-Jews).
Yet, because of what Christ did for them, these two groups of people had become friends. We see this in Ephesians 2:13-14:
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…
What we have to understand is that it is the gospel that brings different groups of people together. Especially inside the church!
Tony points out that if we are in Christ, we not only have a new identity but we also have a new community – made up of new brothers and sisters in Christ. And we all make up the household of God.
That reminds me of the song by Bill Gather entitled “The Family Of God”. The chorus says:
I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.
I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood!
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
For I’m part of the family, the family of God.
Because of what Jesus did for us on the cross of Calvary, we get to be part of God’s family!
Tony goes on to say:
Being reconciled with God doesn’t mean that working in unity with people is easy. But even though it’s not easy to live in unity with other believers, Jesus died to bring us together. So it must be important!
Jesus died for the church. That’s all of us – you, me, people who are different from us, and even people who are legitimately hard to get along with.
The church is made up of all different kinds of people with all different kinds of interest and will all different kinds of likes and dislikes. But it is the gospel that unites us and makes us One in Christ!
Galatians 3:28 says, “There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Colossians 3:11 states, “In Christ there is not Greek or Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.
Diversity in the church is a glorious demonstration of the work of Christ. it is to be celebrated as it pictures heaven. – Tony Merida
So we come to the application part. Is there a conflict in your life with another Christian? Here are some practical steps to take:
- Pray for that person
- Ask God to soften your heart toward them
- Call, write, email or text them
- Talk with them face-to-face
Remember that no matter the circumstance or how different they are from you – if both parties are Christians, it is the gospel that brings us all together.