Ephesians 3:This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— 2 for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you, 3 and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, 4 a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. 5 In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: 6 that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
In our passage for today, Paul is writing to the church in Ephesus, which is in modern-day Turkey. He writes about a “mystery” that was made known to him via divine revelation from the risen Jesus himself, which he then gave to the Ephesians. What is the mystery?
6… the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Before Jesus came, it would have been unimaginable for non-Jews (Gentiles) to be considered children of God. Gentiles were the enemy of God’s people, not to be counted among them. Much of the Old Testament is the story of God demanding that his people be set apart from Gentiles, but the people failing to do so. God did not want his people to be influenced by the pagan gods and rituals of the Gentiles. But no manner of demands/rules from God the Father did the trick. And God’s people were punished for it.
NOW there is a new covenant in Christ Jesus – not a covenant in the law (begun in the time of Moses) demanding God’s people be separate from the Gentiles, but a new covenant in which ALL PEOPLE are included in the promise of the gospel. Jew, Gentile, free, slave, male, female.
We are all called to be ONE in Christ Jesus! This was a mind-blowing idea in ancient times. Frankly, it still is.
The suburb where I live (the town of Coppell in suburban north Dallas) was once a predominantly white, upper middle class community. No more. Socio-economically it hasn’t changed much. It’s still an expensive place to live and, frankly, growing more so all the time. Not good in my opinion. But ethnically, it’s changing rapidly. There are increasing numbers of people from other parts of the world – skilled engineers, physicians, scientists, and other professionals here to participate in a booming economy.
Friday night I was at our local park where a live band was playing along with a fireworks display honoring July 4th. As I looked upon my neighbors, I began to wonder what will keep us together. What has the power to overcome our significant cultural differences? Today’s passage reminds me that Jesus Christ has been overcoming immense cultural differences – for over 2,000 years! Therein lies our hope!
Heavenly Father, give us grace to be as welcoming as you are. For all people are made one in Christ Jesus. Amen.