Summary: How our expectation can influence our evangelism
What Expectations Do We Place Upon Others
Ephesians 2: 11-13
There are many distinctions in the world
and with the recent Republican and Democrat National Conventions we are reminded that there are political distinctions.
In Ephesians Paul brings us to the forefront of a religious distinction
Jew -vs- Gentile
Situation of the early church:
Jewish origins: Apostles, early disciples; led to Jews outside Judean/ Galileen area. Soon non-Jews began to be attracted by the gospel message. They were Roman/ Greek/ Egyptian. Pagan in the eyes of the orthodox Jews. But they began to cling to the gospel message, and they wanted to follow the teachings of Christ. But their lives- their traditions were in stark contrast to the Jewish Law. They ate pork, exposed their flesh, and they had a pantheon of gods- all of which were abhored by the Jews. Jews were insulted by the notion of eating pork. Romans and Greeks found beauty in the naked body, but Jews found this to be an abomination. One is to be ashamed in exposing their nakedness. And the fact that both the Greeks and the Romans held a belief in a pantheon of gods was absurd; especially in the face of Israel’s monotheistic faith in Yahweh. In the face of a large movement of Gentiles (non-Jews) coming into agreement with the teachings of Christ, Jewish Christians were now faced with the task of making disciples of these new converts. They believed that to do so meant to make Jews out of the Gentiles; that is to cause these new believers to follow all the laws of Judaism. True Christians would follow the traditions of the Judaism. "If you are going to serve and worship our God, then you must be like us." Jewish Christians would argue that Christianity arose out of Judaism. Christ was a Jew. In fact Jesus said, "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them." (Matthew 5:17) And throughout the Sermon on the Mount Christ reminds us of what God commanded through Moses. "You have heard ‘Do not kill,’but I tell you do not be angry.", "You have heard, "Do not commit adultery,’ but I tell you do not lust for another." "You have heard, "Do not make promises you don’t intend to keep,’ but I tell you to not make promises period." "You have heard, "An eye for an eye,’ but I tell you turn the other cheek." "You have heard, "Love your neighbor,’ but I tell you love your enemy also."
Christ stiffens the Law. "If you are going to be righteous, then you’re goinna have to do a lot better than this." Early Jewish Christians took liberty in the belief that disciples of Christ must live distinctively from the world; and to do so meant to be Jewish in every respect. You must follow these patterns of worship. You have to sing like us, pray like us, act like us. You must live like a Jew to follow our Jewish Messiah. After all God gave these commandments to His people for the explicit purpose of being distinct.
The issue at hand is how much, or how many of these commandments must I follow in order to be a Christian? What makes a Christian a Christian? The Gentiles of the early church would argue that they did not need to follow all of the Jewish laws, or rules, to be a Christian. After all they wanted to follow Christ and be Christians, not Jewish converts.
In the midst of this argument, Paul simply states, "For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, the he might create in himself one new man in place of the two so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end." (Ephesians 2: 14-16) Simply stated, ‘In that one act of Christ on Calvary, in His Crucifixion, the distinction between Jew and Gentile was made void. How? By "abolishing" as Paul states it, "the law of commandments and ordinances."
If you’re paying attention, you’re thinking, "Hey, wait a minute. Didn’t we just hear Jesus say, "Think not that I have come to abolish the law; I have come not to abolish [it], but to fulfill [it]." And if Jesus said he didn’t come to abolish the law and Paul says that Christ did abolish the law, doesn’t that make it a contradiction? No, not really. And here’s why. Paul is speaking from the experience of his life.