I’ve been reading through Ephesians the last few weeks, reflecting on Paul reminding Christians we’re One in Christ. I continually think how this is so applicable to our country, particularly regarding racial division. I felt inspired to write this blog two days before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and the timing seemed fitting.
Of course, I couldn’t say it better than the scripture itself, so please read the verses below. It’s a good bit to read, but so powerful.
Keep in mind, these verses were written after Christ died and rose from the dead, fulfilling the Old Testament Law that had previously divided people groups based on religion. When Christ came, He abolished the hostility between the two groups and welcomed all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, or previous religion, to join the Body of Christ, through faith in Him. One Body. One in Christ.
As you read this, picture our current state and how this might apply to the way we seek being One in Christ. While it’s not a perfect analogy because Paul’s addressing a different group, there’s so much truth we can apply. Christ’s desire for His people is clear.
Note: Unless you’re Jewish, Gentiles would be all of us reading this.
All of the verses below are taken from Ephesians chapters 2-4. I’ve noted the chapter and verses at the end of each chunk. The phrases in bold stand out to me, relevant to this topic.
One in Christ
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 expressed in 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. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens,[d] but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by[e] the Spirit.” (2:11-22)
The Mystery of the Gospel Revealed
“This mystery is[f] that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” (3:6)
Unity in the Body of Christ
4 “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (4:1-6)
15 “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (4:15-16)
There’s so much wonderful application from these passages for my heart. I feel like God brings something new to light each time I read it.
If we claim to be a Christian, it’s not ok to be prejudice. Perhaps claiming to love Christ one moment, and thinking it’s ok to tell a racist joke the next. It’s just as sinful to sound like we love all people or we’re nice to everyone at the surface, but deep down believing we’re better. We must continually ask God to reveal the depths of our hearts and bring us to repentance for areas in which we’re not loving all people like Christ loves us.
I have blind spots and I want to continue growing in the understanding of racial reconciliation. I don’t share as an expert on this topic, but as somebody who desires unity, humility, and understanding in regards to race. I share as someone who has a lot to learn and areas for growth, but wants to speak up, nonetheless.
We may not all agree with how the government or political groups approach improving diversity and inclusion, but God’s Word unifies opinions and gives clear direction on how all Christians should love one another. One Body. One in Christ.
1. If we’re a Christ-follower, we’ve been fully adopted into God’s family, fully forgiven from all our sin by no work we’ve done. Fully undeserving, “having no hope and without God in the world” (2:12).
Reflection: How can any of us, who have been fully adopted and accepted, by no work that we’ve done, reject someone based on race and/or color of skin?
2. “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility…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” (2:14-16).
Reflection: Does my belief, heart, and/or actions help destroy the wall of hostility, or am I rebuilding it (or not doing anything)?
3. Do I treat all my brothers and sisters in Christ as a family? As fellow citizens and members of the household of God? (3:19)
4. “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:1-3).
Reflection: Am I living my life this way? With all humility, gentleness, bearing with one another in love? Eager to do this?
5. “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (4:4-6)
Reflection: Do I see all believers as part of one body?
6. In Christ, “…the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (4:15-16)
Reflection: As a “joint” intended to help the entire “body grow so that it builds itself up in love,” am I helping or hindering our growth?
There is so much racism in America and, sadly, among Christians. This grieves God’s heart, as His creation is fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139), intended to be One in Christ.
How do our heart motives and actions need to change in light of this?
In closing, I hope we each consider the implications of these verses, specifically, today, in light of building racial reconciliation, but also in the ways we can each be a working “piece” of the Body at large. Growing the Body in love (paraphrased 4:15-16).
How can each of us contribute in removing hostility and building up the entire Body?
One in Christ,