Together as One
Together As One Ephesians 2:11-22
Story of husband and wife fighting
She thought the only way they would ever have peace is after he died. Sometimes, our relationships even with other believers can get so bad, we wonder if the hurts could ever be healed this side of the grave. We wonder if there could ever be peace. We wonder if there could ever be true reconciliation before we all get to heaven.
Well, if you’re in that kind of a relationship, I’ve got good news for you: Peace is possible this side of glory! The healing of broken relationships can happen starting today.
You say, Ron how is that possible? How can my broken relationships be healed?” Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Ephesians 2, where God shows us how true reconciliation is possible between any and all believers in Christ.
Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Reconciliation is possible, because the cross of Christ brings us together.
The blood of Christ, shed on the cross, not only brings us close to God (vs.1-10), it brings us close to each other (vs.11-22). First of all…
THE CROSS BRINGS US TOGETHER AS ONE NATION.
It makes us citizens of the same country. Those who were once our enemies are now our neighbors through the blood of Christ.
You see, before the cross, God’s people, the Jews, despised the gentiles. They despised anyone who was not one of them. In their minds, Gentiles were without circumcision (how gross is that?!). They were without Christ (or any Messiah). They were without citizenship (they were barbarians). They were without covenants (they had no promise). They were without confidence (without hope). And worst of all, they were without God.
But the cross of Christ changed all that. The cross of Christ brought enemies together in one tribe, or in one nation. Now, we no longer have to fight each other, because we are fellow citizens in Christ, brought together by the blood of Christ.
Paul Yonggi Cho in South Korea is pastor of one of the largest churches, if not THE largest church, in the world. Many years ago, as his ministry was becoming international, he told God, “I will go anywhere to preach the gospel – except Japan.” He hated the Japanese with a gut-deep loathing because of what Japanese troops had done to the Korean people and to members of Yonggi Cho's own family during WWII.
It was only after a prolonged inner struggle and several direct challenges from others that he answered an urgent and starkly worded invitation to preach in Japan. Yes, he went to Japan, but he went with bitterness. His first speaking engagement was at a pastor's conference with 1,000 Japanese pastors. Cho stood up to speak, and the only thing he could say was, “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you.” And then he broke down and wept.
At first one, then two, then all 1,000 pastors stood up. One by one they walked up to Yonggi Cho, knelt at his feet and asked forgiveness for what they and their people had done to him and his people. As this went on, God changed Yonggi Cho. The Lord put a single message in his heart and his mouth: “I love you. I love you. I love you.” (Mark Buchanan, Your God Is Too Safe, Multnomah, 2001, p. 47)
That’s the power of the blood of Christ! It can heal the hatred between Koreans and Japanese. It can bring Jew and Gentile together, black and white, even longhorns and sooners; and it can bring reconciliation between you and… well, you know who.
So have hope this morning. Don’t give up on your broken relationships, because the cross of Christ brings us together as one nation. But if that’s not close enough to work for you, then consider this…
THE CROSS ALSO BRINGS US TOGETHER AS ONE BODY.
The blood of Christ inextricably links us as one corporeal substance. We not only live together, we are part of one another.
Ephesians 2:14–16 (NASB95)
For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.
The cross brought Jew and gentile together in one body.
Jesus created one “new man” out of two bitter enemies and tore down the wall that divided them. That wall was the Mosaic Law, which was a source of contention between Jew and Gentile. The Law excluded Gentiles, because they didn’t eat the right foods, behave the right way, or even have the right appearance. No matter that the Jews couldn’t keep the law themselves. It made them feel superior to the Gentiles and kept the two apart.
Well, the cross made the law of no effect. That’s literally what the word, “abolish,” means in verse 15. In other words, the law doesn’t matter anymore after the cross, so it is no longer a point of contention or distinction. So what if you eat pork or not. So what if you are circumcised or not. So what if you wash your hands before dinner or not. It doesn’t matter anymore. The cross took all those distinctions away and made them of no importance.
We are all the same before the cross – sinners in need of a Savior. The only thing that matters anymore is our relationship with Christ and with each other.
Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest in East Los Angeles, has put together a team of physicians trained in the laser technology of tattoo removal. They take away the tattoos of ex-gang members and help them wipe the slate clean.
It’s a very crucial service, because a gang-related tattoo prevents many former gang members from getting jobs or advancing in work. For others, the tattoo is a source of shame, and it puts them in serious danger on the streets from rival gangs. There is no fee or community service required to get the tattoos removed. It is strictly a gift, with so many interested, that the waiting list is over a thousand names.
You see, a tattoo is usually permanent, and it communicates the idea that the gang’s claim on you is also permanent. It is a mark of ownership as much as identity. And those who have such identities feel they can never shake it off. They feel permanently enslaved.
That’s the way many people feel about their past mistakes. They feel like their sins have left a mark they cannot shake off. Well I have good news! Like former gang members who have had the marks of a former life removed, so our sins are erased by the blood of Christ. They are remembered no longer.
It doesn’t matter anymore that we have broken the Law. The blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin. It erases all the marks of the past so there is no longer any distinction between Jew and Gentile, between the righteous and the sinner, between those who are in and those who are out.
Now, we are all ONE in Christ Jesus, all of us who are followers of Christ. We are all a part of the same body with the same access to God through His Holy Spirit.
And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.
Because there is no longer any distinction and because we are all a part of the same body, Christ calls us to live in peace with one another.
After ten years of marriage, a husband and wife named Cindy and Chip Altemos were in the long process of getting a divorce. The baggage they brought from their previous marriages seemed too great to overcome, so they separated and even agreed to date other people.
Five years into the painful separation, Chip was in the hospital with kidney failure. His health was deteriorating rapidly, but his soon-to-be ex-wife came to his aid—in spite of Chip's being in another relationship at the time. “He was still my husband,” she told the press. “There was no way I could walk around with two kidneys, and he had none. It was the right thing to do.” She agreed to donate a kidney, telling Chip there were no strings attached.
The transplant took place on February 21, 2007, and a funny thing happened as they both recovered in the hospital: they fell back in love. Chip thought to himself, “Why would I want to date someone else, when I have a woman who would give part of herself so I can keep living?” He put an end to his other relationship and asked Cindy to come back home with him, and they celebrated their 17th wedding anniversary in October of that same year. (Associated Press, Kidney Saves Marriage, www.foxnews.com, 5-6-07)
There is something about sharing the same body that brings people together. So it is in the Body of Christ. We are part of one another, so we cannot remain apart from one another for too long without doing serious damage to the entire body. We can, and we must pursue reconciliation with our brothers and sisters in Christ, because the healing of Christ’s body depends on it.
The cross of Christ brings us together as one. It brings us together as one nation – so be hopeful. It brings us together as one body – so be healed. And finally…
THE CROSS OF CHRIST BRINGS US TOGETHER AS ONE BUILDING.
The cross makes of us one temple. The cross puts us together as one cathedral to the honor and glory of God himself.
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
We don’t GO to a temple to worship God. We ARE the temple where God resides.
In Bible days, Gentiles were barred from entering the Temple in Jerusalem. There was actually a wall which separated the court of the Gentiles from the temple itself, and on that wall there was a sign: “No foreigner may enter within the barricade which surrounds the sanctuary and enclosure. Anyone who is caught doing so will have himself to blame for his ensuing death.”
At one time, Gentiles would not dare to step one foot into God’s temple. Now, we find out that we ARE God’s temple, along with our Jewish brothers and sisters in Christ.
i heard a story once about a church secretary Every month, before attending her Bible study at church, Karen would tell her 3-year-old son, Chad, they were going to God's house. Each time they walked through the quiet sanctuary on their way to the nursery, Chad looked around in awe. Then one particular day, he stopped abruptly and asked, “Mommy, if this is God's house, how come He's never home?”
We laugh at that, but it’s a great question: If the church sanctuary is God’s house, how come He’s never home? That’s because God doesn’t live in buildings. He lives in people, HIS people, both individually and corporately.
1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Your body (singular) is a temple of the Holy Spirit,” i.e., your body as an individual. But 1 Corinthians 3:16 says, “You yourselves (plural) are God’s temple,” i.e., you yourselves as a corporate entity. 1 Peter 1:5 says, “Like living stones, [we] are being built into a spiritual house.”
Like I said, we don’t GO to a temple to worship God; we ARE the temple where God resides. So each of us is a part of some grand and glorious building designed to honor the God who lives within.
Many of you may not be familiar with the true story of five missionaries who gave their lives trying to reach the violent Waodoni tribe in the jungles of Ecuador. Nate Saint led the missionaries who were eager to reach the Waodoni people before their vicious revenge killings that had gone back generations wiped out the entire population. The missionaries landed their plane on a river sandbar and made contact with the Waodoni. The initial contacts were positive; but later, the Waodoni speared the five men to death.
After her brother’s murder, Nate Saint's sister, Rachel, went to live with the Waodoni, ministering to them until her death in 1994. When Nate's son, Steve, went to Ecuador for her funeral, he was caught up again in the old feelings of bitterness and loss.
The film, The End of the Spear, captures that moment. In it, one of the Waodoni leaders, Mincayani, takes Steve by canoe to the sandbar where the wreckage of the missionary plane still lies. There, in an emotional conversation, Mincayani tells Steve that he was the one who speared his father.
Mincayani then picks up his own spear and points it at himself, inviting Steve to avenge his father. Enraged and grieving anew, Steve grabs the spear and holds it to Mincayani's chest, about to run him through. But after a moment of weeping, he says, “No one took my father's life—he gave it,” and he throws down the spear. In the very next scene, Steve and Mincayani are flying over the jungle in a small plane at sunset. That’s when we hear Steve’s voice capturing the essence of what just happened.
He says, “My father lost his life at the end of the spear. And it was at the end of the spear that Mincayani and I found ours. It's true that my dad and his four friends were not given the privilege of watching their children and grandchildren grow up. But Mincayani is a grandfather. It's the first time in Waodoni history that they have ever had so many grandfathers. He's not only a grandfather to his own children; he's a grandfather to mine. My dad would have liked that. Through the years, people could always identify with our loss, but they could never imagine the way in which we would experience gain.”
God is honored when His people live in reconciliation with each other. The whole world sits up and takes notice, because such grace is unimaginable. It is a holy thing, unique among God’s people alone.
In his book, What’s So Amazing About Grace, Philip Yancey writes about a British conference on comparative religions, where experts from around the world debated what, if any, belief was unique to the Christian faith.
They began eliminating possibilities. Incarnation? Other religions had different versions of gods appearing in human form. Resurrection? Again, other religions had accounts of return from death.
The debate went on for some time until C.S. Lewis wandered into the room. “What's the rumpus about?” he asked, and heard in reply that his colleagues were discussing Christianity's unique contribution among world religions. Lewis responded, “Oh, that's easy. It's grace.” And after some discussion, the conferees had to agree.
The Buddhists have their eight-fold path. The Hindus have their doctrine of Karma. The Jews have their Mosaic covenant, and the Muslims have their code of law. Each of these offers a way to earn approval. Only Christianity dares to make God's love unconditional. (Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing About Grace? Zondervan, 1997, p.11) And…
God calls us to love each other with that same unconditional love. It’s a holy thing. It’s unique. It’s special among God’s people alone, and it’s all possible only because of the cross of Jesus Christ.
The cross of Christ brings us together as one. It brings us together as one nation – so be hopeful. It brings us together as one body – so be healed. And it brings us together as one building – so be holy in all your relationships. Love like nobody else and pursue reconciliation even with those who don’t deserve it. After all, that’s how God loved you and me. We cannot choose what others do to us but we can choose how and what we do to others how we respond to others
we are called to be like christ
He gave his life just like Nate Saint did on that sandbar no one took it he freely gave it out of love,
We can choose the life of the Waodoni a life of bitterness of plotting of revenge of violence poisoned by hate or we can choose to love and forgive The way GOD Chose you before the foundations of the world that even though it was your sin that killed his Son. God chose love
God chose Grace God chose forgiveness
So what shall you choose this day
For me and my house will serve the Lord our God with Love with Kindness with gentleness with peace with a forgiving heart
Let us pray