But now, in King Jesus, you have been brought near in the king’s blood—yes, you, who used to be a long way away! He is our peace, you see. He has made the two to be one. He has pulled down the barrier, the dividing wall, that turns us into enemies of each other. He has done this in his flesh, by abolishing the law with its commands and instructions.
The point of doing all this was to create, in him, one new human being out of the two, so making peace. God was reconciling both of us to himself in a single body, through the cross, by killing the enmity in him.
He has pulled down the barrier, the dividing wall, that turns us into enemies of each other
Wow! Creating one new human being out of two (Jews and Gentiles in the context of Ephesians). One new human family, a forever family, created by King Jesus when people find their allegiance in Him rather than in the earthly families or realities to which many align themselves.
An older Christian I know well describes a scene when, back in the 1970s, he was invited to attend a small group hosted by a couple named Bob and Win. It was a time when many young people (who are now much older) were dissatisfied with the established church and were looking for something else. Bob and Win invited them to their house for Bible study.
Forever Family. That was the name of the group. These wandering souls had found something new: a gathering of people who focused their allegiance around Jesus Christ and then tried to live this out in a community of people from all kinds of backgrounds.
It was a family; it was a ‘forever family’ because these people found that their earthly family boundaries were much bigger when you have a group of people now identified by their allegiance to their mutual Father in heaven.
Here’s some more of chapter 2 (verses 17 to 22):
So the Messiah came and gave the good news. Peace had come! Peace, that is, for those of you who were a long way away, and peace, too, for those who were close at hand. Through him, you see, we both have access to the father in the one spirit. This is the result. You are no longer foreigners or strangers. No: you are fellow-citizens with God’s holy people. You are members of God’s household. You are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with King Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole building is fitted together, and grows into a holy temple in the Lord. You, too, are being built up together, in him, into a place where God will live by the spirit.
The New Testament book of Ephesians then gives us a real insight into what church was always supposed to be, a family; a movement rather than an institution.
One of these people who was a part of that movement in the 1970s described herself: ‘I am a servant of Christ Jesus carefully disguised as a machine operator in a machine shop’. She knew her allegiance and her mission. Her allegiance was to Christ. Her mission was to her co-workers.
Fast forward to 2017. The ‘established church’ has been found lacking by many people. In our day, there are many who may identify with Jesus but won’t identify with any formal church gathering.
This is what ‘The Gathering’ is all about and what the church here in Netherthong and the wider Holme Valley is seeking to become.
God has now created a new entity called the ‘family of God’ in whom His Spirit dwells. As such, we are now identified as brothers and sisters of each other. We live a new way in line with what King Jesus teaches, knowing that he has put this new body together in a way that is to bring about God’s way of reconciliation in a fractured world. The world is different because of the way these people (and others like them) live their lives. They, too, want to break down divisions among people through the work of the King and His big family.
While I love my earthly family, I am closer to them because of our ‘new family’ status in Jesus. The political affiliations are irrelevant; the economic status is irrelevant; the ethnic differences are irrelevant. We are one new body,representing King Jesus in a deeply divided world.
In his book Simply Christian, Tom Wright describes the Christian family this way:
‘The early Christians did their best to live as an extended family, caring for each other in the way in which (in that world) extended families did. They called each other “brother” and “sister” and really meant it. They lived and prayed and thought like that: children of the same father, following the same older brother, sharing goods and resources where need arose. When they talked about “love,” that’s the main thing they meant: living as a single family, a mutually supporting community. The church must never forget that calling.’
Let’s work together to make that even more of a reality here in the Holme Valley in 2017! Let’s choose to gather together regularly, develop true community and make a difference to the world we live in!