We journey on through the "Contemporary Testimony: Our World Belongs to God" with a look at the church, the place of horizontal and vertical reconciliation.
Paragraphs 1-6: Preamble (April 11-29)
Paragraphs 7-12: Creation (April 30-May 8)
Paragraphs 13-17: Fall (May 11-15)
Paragraphs 18-22: Redemption (May 18-22)
Paragraphs 23-27: Jesus Christ
Paragraphs 28-30: Holy Spirit
[On the church as a forgiven community called to be holy, see Ephesians 1:3-7; on dealing with one another patiently, Galatians 6:1-5 and Colossians 3:12-14; on the need for confession and restoration, 1 John 1:8-2:6; and on living out God’s reconciling love as part of a new creation, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 and 1 John 3:16-17.]
Grace, forgiveness, and love, three absolute requirements of living together in the family of God. I know I need it! And I suspect you do, too, both to receive it and to offer it to others. Paragraph 39 paints a beautiful picture of Christian community. Scripture does not mean for it to be theoretical. Rather, it needs to be lived out, practical, the way Jesus taught us by taking on our flesh.
This message has never been so relevant as it is today. My brother's church in the US replaced their sermon this past Sunday with a recorded message by Dr. Bryan Loritts where he addresses the need for the cross following the death of George Floyd. Only the cross, he argues, can bring true reconciliation. Here is a portion:
"In Ephesians 2:4, Paul says, “It is by grace you have be saved.” That’s good stuff, but keep reading. Beginning in v11 having talked about vertical reconciliation, he now goes into horizontal reconciliation.
He says, “Let me talk to you Gentiles in the flesh.” You don’t have to spend a day in seminary to know, he’s now dealing with the issue of ethnicity. He’s saying the cross of Jesus Christ “has dismantled the dividing wall of hostility.” So now that dividing wall is gone, which once segregated Jews and Gentiles. Now Jews and Gentiles can rush together in this local thing called the church and worship with one another in this new humanity.
The brilliance of Ephesians 2 is he goes from vertical reconciliation to not just horizontal reconciliation but horizontal reconciliation specifically as it relates to ethnic unity. We’ve got to be passionate about that.
I don't make friends with people who are racially different than me so I can get into heaven, but one of the ways I know that heaven's gotten into me is when I do life with people who don’t look like, think like, act like, vote like me. We’ve got to be Ephesians 2 Christians."
Today's song is "Break Dividing Walls" by David Ruis of Winnipeg. What can you do today that breaks down a dividing wall between you and someone outside your normal friendship or church group?
"Lord, forgive us for the walls we have built. Please build us into a community of grace, forgiveness and love which calls out and breaks down the sinful barriers that divide your body."
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
As we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
PS - Online office hours tomorrow will be 1-2pm. Just click on that link to open a video conference session.