SURE TO RISE.2
The Big Idea: There are no insiders or outsiders in the body of Christ. we the hospitable church are called to break down the barriers that obstruct the way to the Cross for the weak, poor, disabled foreign in our neighbourhoods
Different! You could see it from the first – they were not like us; you could feel the tension as we weighed each other’s differences; what mattered; what didn’t! Our mob was brash, noisy, nervously cheerful – they were watchful, tentative, tired, insecure…and there were external manifestations that heightened the difference; clothes, jewellery, type of slang, music emanating from vehicles and cabins. Funny how all of that faded into insignificance as we began to worship and study, play and relax, together. Gradually difference became fun, interesting or unimportant now.
Plundered by peace. [Ephesians 2] A part of the mission of Jesus in dying and rising as He did, was to remove the firmly established barrier between God and us, and out of that emerges the threat to the barriers that have long established themselves between individual people and the groups they form. In Paul’s case, he’s pointing to the barrier that existed between Jews and Gentiles that persisted with Jewish believers and gentile followers of Jesus – a sense of religious and cultural entitlement on the one hand, and of spiritual revolution on the other, helped to maintain one the very barriers Jesus himself attacked during his ministry.
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought
near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has
made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall”
Unexpectedly, astonishingly Jesus has plundered the walls of our prejudice and judgement in apparent weakness and an event that is hotly contested even in the church…and yet this is how he has brought to end the hostility, the multiple hostilities, the we as sinful, rebellious followers persist with even when we know the truth, and have seen his heart. (For example in John 17).
An earlier verse suggests what it is that enables our rebellion to continue;
now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been
brought near by the blood of Christ.
We are way too deferential. We stand at a distance as though Jesus didn’t really mean we should relate closely with him and yet that is precisely his aim. And that’s the astonishing power in which he, in us by the ever-present Spirit, brings down the walls that keep us at arm’s length. Just as we are no longer aliens in his household, we are no longer aliens to each other no matter apparently different we are – there are no more barriers. They only arise as we impose a super-structure that is discordant with what Christ has begun in amazing grace, whether it be because of custom, or of theological traditions (conservative or liberal), or even politics, it is discordant. As Paul puts it:
In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.
So what? In the new missional environment in which we find ourselves there is no relevance to the old categories of insider and outsider. In our environment a newcomer arrived last week, a member has been here a month, those involved in serving have often been here only a year or so. If we have Christ in common we already belong to each other, we already have a place in this household. So we are bound to treat each other that way; traditional celtic, and even asian reserve is no longer appropriate. In Christ whatever I see in you that disquiets me is against a foreground of the wonder of Christ’s life-transforming grace, and in that you are made lovable (as is any human being but even more so with fellow-travellers in Christ.)
In, for, and through Christ, let’s start living as the household he called us to be.