Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Called to Unity
Dr. Aleena Cherian
St.Thomas MTC, NY
"the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel." (Ephesians 3:6)
The concept of unity is unique in the context of our Christian faith. The world may think of unity as being joined together under a common purpose or with common interests or a common background. However, the unity amongst believers in Jesus Christ calls together individuals of diverse backgrounds under a common faith. The source of our unity is not in a number of factors that we may have in common, but in the single most critical uniting factor- Jesus Christ and His redeeming work on the Cross.
The second and third chapters of Paul's letter to the Church in Ephesus talk about how as part of God's household, we stand with prophets, saints, Gentiles and with Christ himself. Paul opens Chapter 3 by speaking of a "great mystery" revealed to him by revelation from God- that is to say, not something he has conceived on his own but was disclosed by the revelation of God. This unique usage of the term "mystery" connotes not something dark or puzzling, but rather, a truth hidden thus far from human knowledge that is now revealed.
In verse 7 Paul specifically highlights a key factor regarding this mystery- that God would call Gentiles to salvation by faith in Christ. This unity among Jews and Gentiles is a subject that comes up frequently in Paul's writings. While Israel was the people chosen by the Lord as the instrument to call the world back to God, the redemptive work of Jesus Christ is available for all people, not just the Jews. Paul's words here echo what we read in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, that God's salvation would reach "to the ends of the earth", including the Gentiles (49:6).
In this passage, Paul makes 3 main points regarding the unity among Jews and Gentiles.
1.Gentiles are heirs jointly with Israel: In saying this, Paul is looking ahead and saying that Gentiles would have equal right to the heavenly inheritance along with believing Jews.
2.Gentile and Jews are members together of a united body: Paul looks to the present and articulates that we are all members of one body, the Church, with Christ as the head. In the previous chapter, he also emphasized this, reminding the Gentiles that though they were once separate from Christ, now they have been brought near by the blood and the two groups are made one. (Ephesians 2:14)
3.Gentiles and Jews are sharers together of God's promise in Christ: This promise looks to the past, and reminds us of the covenant that God made with Abraham, that "In your seed all nations of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 22:18). Now, Gentiles share equally with Jews in this promise, as written in Galatians 3, " If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise".
Today, this passage also serves as a reminder for us as believers that we are called to live in unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ.When we are tempted to look down upon, judge, ostracize or alienate fellow believers who may look or act differently from us, we need to remember that the Word teaches that all who proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord share in God's promise in Christ. This unity must be exemplified in our actions- as we are told to "be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2) and to " do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Galations 6:10)". It is not always easy to live in peace and love with our family in Christ, however, our bond as believers goes beyond feelings of affection or common interests, rather, it is rooted in the perfect love and unity of the Trinity ("I ask that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” -John 17:21). Let us aim to glorify the Lord through our unity as believers.
Lord, we thank You that through the work of Christ, we too, have the privilege to be the heirs of God' promise. Help us to remember that our unity as believers is based in keeping our eyes on Jesus Christ and allow us to reflect this unity in our actions by living in peace with and in service to our fellow believers. Amen.
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