Ephesians was written to both the believing Jews and the believing proselytes. He has a unique way of approaching the problem, sort of using reverse psychology as he lets both parties know they hold responsibility for their enmity. Verses 11 reads,
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
What he’s saying is this, “You gentiles were called ungodly by people who were made godly by an act of the flesh, so they weren’t really godly either.” He says, listen, neither of you are better than the other, you were all ungodly until God got hold of you. Maybe we need that reminder today, when this denomination thinks that denomination is wrong and that political party thinks this politicl camp is stupid. I think that the enemy loves that we focus on one another so much as an enemy we don’t live out the love of Christ and make Him known to the world. As long as we’re fighting ourselves, he doesn’t have to bother. I am not saying all of us act this way, but I’ve seen it enough to know that many of us do. In verses 12-13 Paul wrote,
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.
We were at one time enemies of God and enemies of His children. We were far away from Christ. The Gentiles didn’t have the promises that Israel had. The Jews had the law and the prophets, they knew that the Messiah was coming, they knew that God had made a way to be reconciled with Him, but the Gentiles for the most part didn’t know the law and the prophets. But, Paul writes, now we have been brought near to Him, not because of the laws, not because of the prophets, but because of the blood of Jesus Christ. It is His blood, His crucifixion which worked to erase our sin, not our adherence to the law through circumcision or not being circumcised. Jesus’ work nullified the law; His work voided our work.
In being brought close to Christ, in having peace with God, we are also brought to peace with God’s children as we become His children. Verses 14-16 read,
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.
We are no longer two separate people, we are one people, one man. The laws and traditions that brought derision and division have been abolished. He brought peace and we are united with God and one another because of the great and terrible price He paid. We are one people now, God doesn’t see any of us as any more special than the other. He doesn’t see Jew or Gentile, He sees beloved child, the righteousness of Christ. Paul said it this way in Galatians 3:26-29,
for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.
Christ is the equalizer, He is the only Savior, our one and only God. There is one Spirit and one body, not many bodies of the same Lord. We were all once separated from Him and now Believers are His body, His bride, and His church, not His bodies, brides, and churches. Jesus preached the same message to everyone whether Jew, Samaritan, Roman centurion, lawyer, tax collector, Pharisee, slave, prostitute, fisherman, man or woman. He preached peace, He imparted love, He taught the grace of God. Verses 17-22 read,
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, 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 the Spirit.
Jesus made us one. We are not Americans, Canadians, British, Africans, Israelites, and Palestinians, we are Citizens of Heaven. We are not strangers, we are family. We are founded by the prophets who believed God and prophesied about the Messiah. We are built on the teachings of the apostles who taught the Gospel they had witnessed. And the cornerstone, the first and most important stone in the foundation, the stone that is the reference stone for every other stone in the building is Jesus Christ. He unifies us, He makes us one temple with one purpose, not several temples with various missions. We are being built together, growing together, by the Holy Spirit into a dwelling place for Him. He does not dwell in us separately, He dwells in us, His body. We were never meant to be divided. When we put various doctrines above the Truth, when we put traditions above the Gospel, and when we put legalism above Jesus Christ, we diminish what we could do if we let the Holy Spirit have His way with us.
Satan loves division. Division is one of his works against the church. Galatians 5:16-26 describe how the works of the flesh are in conflict with the work of the Spirit.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Divisiveness is listed with things like idolatry, sorcery, and orgies! We are told not to put up with it at all. Titus 3:8-11 in The Living Bible says it this way.
These things I have told you are all true. Insist on them so that Christians will be careful to do good deeds all the time, for this is not only right, but it brings results. 9 Don’t get involved in arguing over unanswerable questions and controversial theological ideas; keep out of arguments and quarrels about obedience to Jewish laws, for this kind of thing isn’t worthwhile; it only does harm. 10 If anyone is causing divisions among you, he should be given a first and second warning. After that have nothing more to do with him, 11 for such a person has a wrong sense of values. He is sinning, and he knows it.
The devil just loves it when we waste our time and energy nitpicking and fighting with each other over dancing, speaking in tongues, drums or the color of the carpet instead of loving one another as Jesus loved us.
I have not given up hope that we, as the Body of Christ will reunite as we were meant to. I see it happening, the church giving up denominational titles, stopping the fault-finding and ridiculous arguments and coming together to bless the Lord through active love, good works, and ministry, to tell the world Jesus is the Truth, the Way, and the Life. God uses our differences, uniqueness, and distinctions to complement one another and help us work together, even need each other. I encourage you, Brothers and Sisters to take an active part in the unity of the church and devotion to Christ rather than misplaced patriotism, partisanship, or loyalty to a nation, government, or denomination.
1 Corinthians 12:12-13 says,
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.