Called Together (Ephesians 2:11-22 Under Construction Series)
Why can’t Christians just get along? Jesus prayer in the gospel of John was that his church would be one as he and the father are one. That we would be as close to one another as the Trinity. And that the world would recognize us for our love for one another. This one thing we would be known for. But that seems to be one of our greatest challenges. How are we to reach the unbelieving world with the love of Christ if we can’t learn to love our fellow Christian brother or sister? The challenge before us today is nothing new. In fact, the Apostle Paul addressed this issue in the early church.
The early church was made up of primarily Jewish converts which makes sense Because it was through the Jewish line of Judah that Jesus was born fulfilling hundreds of prophecies in the Old Testament. The Jews were God’s chosen people to carry bring the message of salvation to the entire Gentile (non-Jewish world.) This was God’s plan all along they were not chosen to keep the message to themselves but to spread the message.
However, by the time of Jesus ministry the Jews had let the idea of being God’s chosen people to go to their head and rather than being a humbling experience it became a source of pride and prejudice against the gentile nations. So much so that many Jews wouldn’t even go into the home of a gentile because they thought it would make them unclean. That is ceremonially impure.
But one day while the apostle Peter was up on the roof of a friend’s house meditating the Lord showed him a vision of a large sheet being let down from heaven with all kinds of animals in it, even the ones which the Jewish people had previously been forbidden to eat. Then the voice of the Lord told him Peter get up and eat. This shocked Peter because that isn’t the way he was raised. But God said don’t call unclean what I have made clean. The message was clear. God was establishing a new covenant. And Peter was to go to these gentile believers and preach the gospel. And, when he did God, poured out his Holy Spirit on them.
The wall of hostility destroyed- There are to be no walls between God’s people. Just like the early church with Jews and Gentiles had to learn to get along with each other so we are called to not only get along but to love one another. And so rather than putting up walls we ought to build bridges as much as possible. But what can we do to be in unity?
Unity among believers needs to be based in truth and in love
- We must build on the same foundation- Every Pastor and Bible teacher is to build on the foundation of the teaching of Jesus and the apostles and the writings of the prophets in the light of the new testament. Upon this, we build our teachings. Unity for the sake of unity will accomplish nothing. We must be united in the truth of the Word of God.
Jesus told a parable of a man who built his house on a foundation of sand and when the storms came the house collapsed.
Teachers who build on a different foundation than that of scripture are presenting a foundation of sand. Whether it’s the false gospel of prosperity or some other metaphysical teaching it will not create a solid foundation upon which you can stand in the day of your troubles.
Even though we may differ on secondary or non-salvation related issues we can all agree on the Bible inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of God, the sinful nature of man, the Trinity, the virgin birth, the deity of Jesus the existence of heaven and hell, salvation a free gift from God not of works. These are the 8 key historical tenants of the faith which have held millions of believers together over the past 2000 yrs. And can be used to build bridges today. The problem comes when we major in the minors not that there aren’t important but they are not salvation related such as end times teaching, or the nature of how the Holy Spirit operates in the gifts today. These are important but many pastors draw a red line in the sand and end up alienating their brethren. Which is really a shame.
- We must not forsake the assembling together of the church-the only way that the church is going to be built together is when we are together. The church is the only worksite were building materials seem to grow legs and walk off the site on their own. there has been a trend in many deciding to leave the church but not leaving their faith.
- People leave because of Apostasy-When the church focuses its efforts on becoming more relevant to the culture it risks becoming irrelevant in the work of making disciples. In an effort to appeal to those who we wish to evangelize or to grow some churches have given themselves over to the beliefs of the culture that contradict the scripture. And so true believers find themselves leaving these organizations looking for a place where they can be fed the Word of God.
- People leave because of offense- it's not about the teaching but someone says or does something that causes a rift between two people and it is just easier for them to start attending another church or just stop coming to church altogether. I have seen people just hear one thing they don’t like and it's usually based on some misunderstanding but they're out of here. And that’s a shame because we are called to bear with one another. I mean we wouldn’t have all these exhortations to love one another and to be patient with one another if it was easy. In order to move past offense, we have to grow in regards to less of a focus on ourselves that it is about God’s kingdom and accomplishing his purposes and 2nd we have to learn to speak up and talk to the person that offended us if it we can’t seem to resolve it in our hearts. If we are going to grow together, we have to be willing to grow together which means doing the messy work of learning to improve our communication and to overlook each other’s flaws
It's about the people- ministry is about helping people grow not just about finding people to fill positions in the church. I think if we help one another to grow the people will gravitate towards their calling. and that takes a constant pruning away off our own pride and reflection on our personal relationship with God. I believe that my job is to help you get to where God is taking you however long I have with you.
Conclusion: imagine what the church could accomplish in these days if we would stand together on the same foundation and put our focus on helping each other and loving each other. I believe that we would become a lighthouse to the nation. Places of refuge for the hurting.