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  • Writer's pictureJill Ball

One in Christ

He has destroyed the barrier the dividing wall of hostility. It was like a flash of light.

I was on my own, reading the book of Ephesians, when the revelation hit me: this was also part of the work of the cross.

He had broken all the barriers between us, bringing us peace.

How can there be division in the church, when we are all one in Christ?

A sketch of a Tau cross, which looks like a chunky capital T
Tau Cross, associated with Francis of Assisi

I realized that I had heard hundreds of sermons about the wonderful work of forgiveness that Jesus had won for us by suffering on the cross and rising again, but never about this.

I had heard someone preach about how we are saved through grace and not by the law from this passage, but not about how peoples are reconciled and I do understand: this is also a wonderful truth.

It is important to look at verses in context and in Ephesus there were Jews and Gentiles who were both part of the church. The Jews were proud of their history. They had the Law, the Prophets and the promise to their forefather Abraham.

It is probable that they thought that the Gentiles were inferior and it is clear from the passage that there was hostility between the two groups.

ruin of a library in Ephesus, which is now in Turkey
Ruins in Ephesus, Turkey

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)—
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.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,
by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace,
and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,
Ephesians 2 v 11-19 (NIV)

The Law shows us that we are not capable of keeping every commandment. It is like a tutor or a guardian, teaching us that we need a saviour.

That we are all saved through faith and grace.

(See Galatians 3 v 22-27, 4 v 1-7)

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
Ephesians 2 v 4-5 (NIV)

This is true for Christians from both a Jewish or Gentile background – we have all been saved by grace and we have all been made alive in Christ. So, Jesus has brought the two groups together, one which was far away, one which was near.

He has reconciled us by becoming our peace.

The barrier which was between us, the walls of hostility, have been destroyed by the work of the cross.

It was his purpose – to create a new humanity.

We are all one in Christ.

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,
for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3 v 26 - 28 (NIV)

We were baptized into Christ, we were made alive in Christ, we are clothed in Christ and have become one in Christ. How can Christ be divided?

We have become children of the same Father and so we are one family.

Jesus came to bring the Kingdom of Heaven, a new kind of society.

How can the church be divided?

In the church there is no place for racism, sexism or classism.

No group is superior and none is inferior.

We are all one in Christ Jesus.

This is a powerful, prophetic sign to the World.

Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.
Colossians 3 v 11-15a (NIV)

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