In Christ: Oneness
I. We were all distant from God until Christ brought us near; 2:11-13.
11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)—12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
The Ephesians were excluded at one time from God's people, separated from Christ. They had no hope of escaping the human predicament and could not anticipate any relief. They were without God.
When God is left out of the picture, life really is bleak and boring. Little reason exists to focus on anything other than self; that leads to alienation, division, and ultimately to despair. People need to hear God calling them to life; they need to hear God calling them to peace.
II. We now have peace with God and His people through Christ; 2:14-18.
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Jesus took the hostility of both Jews and Gentiles into Himself, and when He died it died. Not only does Christ take the hostility into Himself and destroy it, but He creates a new being in Himself. Grace not only connects us to God and Christ, it connects us to each other. The purpose of the new being is the creation of peace and unity between the people of God.
We, as the church, are very privileged, but we are never to become exclusive. We must recognize that no barrier that rejects people for who they are is ever justified. All whom we meet are potentially people who will be in Christ and therefore one with us. The grace that has accepted us into Christ is extended to them by us. All people regardless of race or status—however defined—are to be valued, enabled, and treated justly.
III. We are becoming the dwelling of God; 2:19-22.
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
The church, as a family of faith, should have the feel of a family. Family members care for each other, are committed to each other, equip each other, and sustain each other. No one should be allowed to feel like an outsider in the church; all people need to know they belong.
This text says that we do belong. Christ brought us home to God. We live in God's house as members of His family, and at the same time we are a house in which God lives. We belong with God and are involved in what He is doing. The other people in the house are family with us. This home defines us. Christ has given us a place in His world, and from that sense of belonging comes a growing ability to relate and accomplish the tasks to which we are called. This text asks that we remember where home is: We are at home with God.
Many other barriers exist in our society; such as education, social standing, and economics. The differences will not go away, but the church must think through the fact that the differences should not divide us or make anyone feel less valuable.
Remembering requires attention - it does not happen automatically. To apply this text means that time will be given to thinking, reading, discussing, and learning about the change God has brought. Remembering will lead to prayer and an awareness of God's presence and His involvement in what we do.