Summary: God's purpose in redemption and reconciliation was to make a new race, the human race! It seems discouraging that so many churches are divided. Why is that so and is it possible to become what God designed. Yes find out what hinders and what helps unit
Intro: We began by hearing that this life is not about us. Our life is to be controlled and conformed to the person and principle of Jesus. The church, the body of people that trust Jesus is to be centered on Jesus. We are also called to be holy, different, set apart for God’s purpose on this planet. God designed us to know Him personally not live religiously. He demonstrated His love for us by sending Jesus to die for us.
Here in Ephesians 2:16 He reconciled us to make a one new body. His purpose was to make a body of believers united under the direction of Jesus and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Salvation is intensely personal and between God and the individual. However, God does not save us to become hermits isolated from other believers. At the moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the one body of Christ, made up of all true believers. 1 Corinthians 12:13. God designed for us to live out our faith in community, family, body of believers. We are to press toward the goal of practically living the truth of what we are in Christ one body unified in Christ for the Glory and Kingdom of God.
I. Why does unity seem so difficult? (Ephesians 2:11-12)
Without Jesus and His cross there is alienation and separation and hostility. We can look at the first family and find this to be true. The separation began when Adam and Eve hid themselves from God who they formerly walked with in the cool of the morning.
It is often said that if we get more education, tolerance and political correctness then unity will come. World peace is possible. We know that isn’t true. The problem is sin and pride.
The Ephesian’s were in danger of splitting into Jew and gentile groups because of selfish pride. We have to understand the hostility toward each other was rooted in centuries of hatred.
A) National pride of the Israelites
According to Genesis 12:3 Abraham and his offspring were chosen to be blessings to all the nations. Instead of sharing the blessings they bottled them up and kept them to themselves. The Israelites thought they were better than the gentiles and were closer to God. We see with Peter in Acts even after the Holy Spirit came God had to tear down this wall of hostility and prejudice.
B) National pride of the Gentiles
The Greeks were no better. They called all other people Barbarians because of the way they spoke. Greeks thought their language was the language of the Gods. It is a miracle of God that with these deeply ingrained cultural hostilities that the early church didn’t split.
We see that unity is so hard because of our sinful nature ingrained pride and feelings of superiority. These feelings still exist today in and out of the church. Pride and selfishness account for everything from wars between nations to conflicts in our families and our church. Rulers want greater power, husbands and wives want their own way, and children disobey because they want their way. How then can there be unity? Remember Jesus reconciled you to God.
II. Why is unity possible?
A) Jesus reconciled us to God
The only way for real unity is peace through Jesus Christ who reconciled us to God and according to Ephesians 2:14. So many today thing that we can negotiate, educate or manipulate peace today. Instead we bring our pride, selfishness, racial, national, and religious to Jesus and exchange them for His peace. The Greek word here was used to picture friend that were alienated coming back together. It is the same thing Jesus did on the cross. We were at odds, alienated and separated from God and Jesus established peace by abolishing the ceremonial Old Covenant law and fulfilling the moral law of God.
B) Jesus tore down the dividing wall of separation.
The moral law created a wall between God and man that couldn’t be crossed.
The ceremonial law created a wall between Jews and Gentiles
Jesus tore down the thanatos walls.
Jesus has always been in the business of tearing down walls of separation.
III. How can we become unified?
Remember that God was the one who brought peace and wholeness and forgiveness to us. Recognize that we are prone toward conflict with other believers because we are different and still fight against the old sin nature in us.
Rely on the peace of Christ and let Him reign as Lord in every one of our hearts. Christ does not fight with Himself. One of the marks of true salvation is the peace that comes to individuals that were normally hostile toward each other.
A) Live in the power of the Holy Spirit
B) Live in the promises of God