What a day it has been. Which is why I am late. It has been a full day, and joyous and frustrating day, a deep and profound day, and a minutiae and logistics day. La Donna and I were asked to come present the Spiritual Growth Study that we did at Mission u this summer. We condensed 8 hours of teaching into one and a half. It was a fasten your seatbelts kind of experience. We said we weren’t going to solve things, just stir them up. We weren’t going to give answers or even all the questions, maybe just draw some lines around the general area. And what area was that? The Bible and Human Sexuality. Right, that one. Easy stuff. Surface level stuff. Right? Or rather the kind of stuff we won’t really talk about because we won’t know whether they are there. They? You know, they. The they who frighten us, the they who differ from us, the they whose opinions cause us distress. You know .... they.
From there we drove to Frankfort, where dad is. He had been moved to a different room and for some reason not everything got moved. Plus his phone wasn’t working for some reason. It was when I left it for him. Anyway, we got there late and worked hard, moved some heavy stuff. I think I just figured out why they didn’t move it. Unhooked and rehooked up his computer so now he can communicate again. We’re still working on the phone. But between arranging and rearranging, plugging and unplugging and replugging, shifting and moving, and sweating, they keep those places warm, we finally got it all done, or the part we could handle tonight. And we chatted and promised to return and we left, driving the two hours home, wondering why they weren’t taking care of the things we needed taken care of. Even though we didn’t always know what that was. But they should, shouldn’t they? And why they didn’t bring the other stuff? And why did they let his phone die? And why did they let it get so blamed hot in there?
They. The ones to blame when you’re tired of looking at yourself. They. The ones to fear because a good enemy gets people motivated, but often in knee jerk kinds of ways. They. The source of all your troubles, why you didn’t get the promotion, why you didn’t get elected, why you aren’t chosen for the team, they did it, they set me up, they are out to get me. They.
Ephesians 2:11-16 11 So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called "the uncircumcision" by those who are called "the circumcision"-- a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands – 12 remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15 He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16 and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.
We are still swimming in the sea of Ephesians. This passage is only a part of what will be presented in worship. A small part. We are galloping through another chapter and a half in worship on Sunday. A chapter and half. How in the world can we hope to understand a chapter and a half? Well, we won’t. We can’t. This is an exercise in experience not knowledge. The words wash over us is a torrent and we feel the erosion working on us. And what is supposed to be eroding in this section of Ephesians?
The dividing wall. The us and the them. This torrent of words is designed to wear away our suspicions and our distrust, designed to help us see what connects us and not what makes us different. Not what keeps us apart, but what brings us together. For He is our peace, writes Paul. There is, in short, a possibility for reconciliation, for unity, for community. Because of Jesus Christ. We are made one in Him.
This second half of chapter two and all of chapter three is all about being made one. Not necessarily choosing unity, or accepting unity, or embracing unity, but about being made into a unit. Wait, what? If I don’t choose it, it isn’t going to happen. Right? Well, no, frankly. It’s not up to you, you don’t have that kind of power. Oh you can choose. You can choose to be in Christ or not. You can choose to follow Him or not. But once you’ve made that choice then you surrender the right to choose very much else. Once you have given yourself to Him, you then begin to live as He calls you to live.
Once you claim Christ you get the world thrown in too. How about them apples? Choosing Christ, is choosing unity, even with those who aren’t like you. Those who are far off. In other worlds, in other realities, in other ways of knowing and being known. That far. Because they get to choose Christ too. And in return those folks, the former they, they get something thrown in too. They get you. How about them apples? They get you to be in community with, to love like they love themselves, to love only a little less than they love God. Oh, man. It’s almost too much.
No wonder Paul ends this first section (chapters one through three) in the letter to the Ephesians with a prayer. God, I hope they get it, he prays. I hope they can figure this thing out. I hope they understand just how wide and high and deep God’s love for them in Christ is. But also just how wide and high and deep their love for each other will become as they move closer to Christ. Because they move closer and the others move closer, and in moving closer to Christ, we end up moving closer to each other. It’s not our choice, it is just the reality of the movement. It just happens. Get used to it.
Even though it is almost incomprehensible that I would learn to love one of them. Insert your them of choice here. I can’t even imagine doing that. I can’t imagine going there. I can’t imagine loving like that. I just can’t
Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Far more than we can ask or imagine. Hmm. Imagine that. Thanks be to God.