Summary: If the Body of Christ is ever to be the true example of reconciliation that God wants us to be, we must break down the walls of racial, ethnic, and cultural segregation that currently exist within the church.
(This sermon was preached at a Unity Workshop at the Sterling Blvd. Church of Christ in Sheffield, AL, held in September of 2000. The Sterling church is predominately African American; however, they have been moving toward becoming a more racially mixed church. Following this sermon, the leadership asked me to come to work with them as the Associate Minister. [ I am Caucasian] I began in January 2001. The work is going extremely well! Our senior minister is African American, I am Caucasian/Cherokee Indian, and our Hispanic minister is from Torreon, Mexico.)
Good evening! I’d like to thank brother Ervin for asking me to be the first speaker in this Unity Workshop. It is always a privilege and a blessing to preach the Word of God - and I am especially privileged and blessed to do so tonight, in this particular forum. I’d also like to thank the good elders of this church, brothers Larry Brock, Ralph Adams, Chris Jones, Anthony Burns, and Fred Darthard, for having the foresight, and taking the initiative to host this event - an event which I believe is long overdue in our area - an event that I hope will be the first spark of a raging flame of change and progress for the cause of Christ and His kingdom.
If you have your copy of God’s Word, I encourage you, at this time, to turn with me to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, the chapter is 2, verse number
11 through verse number 22.
Ephesians 2: 11-22 . . . "11* ¶ Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)-- 12* remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13* But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
14* ¶ For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15* by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16* and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17* He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18* For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
19* Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow-citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20* built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21* In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22* And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit."
And so we see in our text, that Christ came to break down that middle wall of separation (represented by the wall in the temple that separated the court of Gentiles from the court of Israel.) The wall that was formed and solidified within the mind of each Jewish child from the time they were born until the day they were buried. And then we see that Christ proceeded to bring both Jew and Gentile together, creating from them ONE man, bringing them peace with God through the cross, and peace with one another - also through his blood, shed on the cross
So, he broke down that barrier put in place by the law - that for approximately 1,300 years, had separated Jew and Gentile. And by Christ’s death on the cross, he reconciled the two races, and made the two - one.
And from that moment on, Christ began to build - with the trowel of the truth, and the mortar of the mighty Holy Spirit - Christ began to build. Through the teaching of the apostles and prophets, he began to lay the human brick of all who would call on his name. Each brick purchased by blood and placed ever so carefully around that chief cornerstone as he built a holy dwelling place for God.
You see, my friends, in Jesus’ mission to seek and to save the lost of this world, he came to build a community of those saved people, and that community is called the church of Christ, the saved, the redeemed, the body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, the church of the Firstborn, and the family of God.