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— 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.
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 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 15 by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
I think I may have mentioned to you before that one of the things I enjoy watching is Master Chef Jr. It’s a reality TV show competition where a bunch of kids, between the ages of 8-12, compete in a cooking contest judged by Gordon Ramsey, Christina Tosi, Joe Bastianich, and other notable guests.
One of the things that constantly amazes me is how the professional chefs are caught off guard when these kids take cooking ingredients that professional chefs would never pair together, these kids somehow merge them into a dish that blows away these seasoned judges.
I was thinking about the merger of unlikely things as I read this passage. What’s happening in Ephesus as two previously separated groups are now merging together as they come to faith in Christ.
One group is the Gentiles or non-Jewish people. In that culture, the Jewish people kept the Gentiles at arm’s length for many reasons including the fact that they worshipped idols and even the emperor or Rome. The Gentiles often reciprocated those negative feelings towards the Jews because in their eyes, the Jews behaved very strangely, worshipping only one God, and this God didn’t even have a statue or any oracle or any other thing that they would have associated with worship. Bottom line, there was a wide gulf between these two cultural groups.
But now that “wall of hostility” has been torn down through the cross of Jesus, and in and through Jesus, a new humanity has been born as both groups are reconciled to God through Christ as one together.
It was a very interesting time in the life of the early church as these two groups, who traditionally and culturally didn’t mix, came together in the church as one new group of people; it would actually be better to understand them as one family in Christ.
Reaching out to others and welcoming them into the life of the church is a continual process in the church. The church is constantly in the process of becoming one in Christ as new people join our church families. But this is where maturing Christians face one of their greatest challenges.
The greatest challenge for Christians is to take the initiative and reach out to others around us and welcome them into the life of our church. That’s part of what it means to be a missional disciple of Christ. We know that we are to live out and share the Gospel with others outside the church, but we must also welcome them into the church which means doing all that we can to welcome them into this new life, this new family in Christ.
For some Christians, that’s a hard adjustment to make as the culture around us has become less and less familiar with our Christian narrative. We have practices and traditions that we’re used to in the life of the church and in general, those are good things. But when those practices and traditions inhibit the sharing of the Gospel and welcoming others into the church, then, for those of us who are maturing in faith, we need to consider how we can come alongside those younger in faith than us to reach, nurture, and equip new believers as they begin their journey of faith.
I’m thinking now of the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32 and the response of the older brother to the celebration of the return of the younger brother. You may recall that the older brother was quite unhappy with the return of the younger brother and I encourage you to read the account in Luke’s Gospel.
So where can you and I, as “older brothers”, make changes and come alongside others, without compromising the Gospel, so that anything that hinders might be thrown aside and we together become one in Christ?
God bless you and know that you are prayed for constantly.