We Are One in Christ
I find it exhausting that we as a community of faith haven’t moved very far in the 2000 years since Jesus walked the earth. Paul was so adamant that the community stop building its walls and fostering hate. In Paul’s time the disdain was between the Gentiles (non-Jews) and the Jews. Both had been welcomed into a new community – one that had been formed and blessed by Christ. But their differences continued to haunt them, even as they claimed unity under Christ. Paul implored them to live and act as one in Christ.
Yet here we are in 2017 still fighting the same fight. Both inside and outside the church we fight over differences, we cultivate and nurture our hatred, we claim insider status, all this while shunning anyone we consider outsiders.
Within the Christian faith our denominations fight over doctrinal differences. We call ourselves liberals or conservatives. We draw lines in the sand. We fight over potential congregation members as if they were merchandise at an auction. We fight our sisters and brothers in the next pew over the building, worship, music, ministries, staff, placement of art, colors of the walls – just about anything, really.
Outside the Christian community we outright condemn non-Christians. We build walls. We separate ourselves from those who differ from ourselves. We call them names. We keep them in poverty with our laws and ordinances. We rip families apart and we arrest those who don’t belong here. All in the name of the law, and in the name of Christ.
Can we stop? Christ’s message of love in the face of differentness is non-negotiable. Christ’s family is not made up of insiders and outsiders. God’s children are everyone. Every. Single. One. Even the ones we fear. Even the ones we hate. Even the ones we blame. We are all one in Christ. Not because we believe in Christ (or we don’t). Not because we worship Christ (or we don’t). Not because we follow Christ (or we don’t). We are one in Christ because Christ has made us one.
Narrative Lectionary Text: Ephesians 2:11-22
So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by those who are called ‘the circumcision’—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens 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 once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, so that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God.