The church is a better plan
by Philip Miles
MIDLAND, MI – In Ephesians 2:11-22, Paul eloquently reminds the Gentile Christians of Ephesus that they were once far from Christ and the covenant promises of God. This alienation left them without hope and without God in their midst. However, in Christ, they were brought out of that alienation and made near to God and His promises.
Jesus Christ broke down all of the hostility and division that separated Jew and Gentile, “...that 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 killing the hostility” (Ephesians 2:15b-16). Out of this destruction of division and hostility emerges one citizenry who are members of the household of God, thus giving us all access to the same God through the same cross by the same Jesus.
Following this, in chapter 3, Paul makes an astounding revelation that we should not miss. He says, in essence, that this was the plan all along. Though it was a mystery shrouded from understanding for a long time, it was always God’s plan that the gospel would make Jew and Gentile, alike, heirs of the same promise in Christ.
Here’s the kicker. In Ephesians 3:10, Paul says that the church, uniting Jew and Gentile together in Christ and killing their long standing hostilities, demonstrates to the rulers and authorities in heavenly places, “the manifold wisdom of God.” In short, whenever the rulers and principalities and powers of the air raise an accusation against God or try to beguile Him and His foolish plan of redemption, it is the church to which He points to silence their hisses.
In light of this, Paul in his imprisonment urged the church, “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:1-6)
This is the spiritual essence of the church. It should be that our churches represent the death of hostility and the unity of the Spirit. It should be that our churches are the places in our communities where people see genuine humility, gentleness and patience on display. The church ought to be the place where a body of people bear with one another and carry one another’s burdens. The church is called to display unity and peace. All of this is meant to be so regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, etc.
The surrounding world craves this kind of community, whether they know it or not. Our churches should be living, breathing examples of the gospel’s work that smashes hostility and false identities and lives out our conviction that in Christ we are not defined by anything else, but by our position as joint-heirs with Christ. In the church, we all entered through the same door. We all have the same Lord, we all believe in the same gospel and we’ve all partaken in the same baptism.
On a whiteboard in my office I have written the following:
Beware of any teaching, “ism”, or school of thought
that promises that which only the gospel can deliver.
May we resist any effort on the part of the enemy to be drawn into a fight that unnecessarily threatens the unity of the Spirit and may we also reject anything that seeks to supplant the preeminence of the gospel and its work in our churches.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Philip Miles, Pastor of Sunrise Church Midland, MI. Husband of Kari and dad to 4 children (teenage down to 6 years old). My hobbies include: podcasts, reading, guitar, cheering from the sidelines of whatever one of my kids is doing, and dreaming with my wife.