The problem of racism stretches back as far humanity’s origin in the book of Genesis. The Bible dedicates an impressive amount of space to this topic. From Genesis through Revelation, the nations are on God’s heart.
Brother pitted against brother, tribe against tribe – fueled by contempt for racial differences, people have warred against one another and hurt one another. Into this reality the gospel brings a message of reconciliation.
Our vocation, our calling as a church is to proclaim to all the nations that we who were far off have been brought near by the blood of Jesus – that every nationality, every people group, every person has a place at the table through the Lord Jesus Christ.
During this 5-week mini-series within our Ephesians study, we are praying for God’s direction on how we can cooperate with the Spirit’s mission of reconciliation, peace and unity.
One of the biblical texts that most clearly and forcefully describes God’s heart for racial reconciliation is found in Ephesians 2:11-3:13. In Asia Minor, there had been centuries of division between ethnic Jews and all other ethnic groups in the Ancient Near East, called Gentiles. It was just as volatile back then as it is today.
Paul talks about this in Ephesians and in all of his epistles. Here are the 3 main truths:
1. Biblical racial equality and reconciliation start in one place, that we are all (Jew and Gentile, every nation, every race, every socio-economic group) equal in this specific way – we are all dead in our trespasses and sins (2:1).
Before Paul talks about any racial reconciliation, he begins here – we are all guilty before a holy God. We all followed the course of this world and the prince of the power of the air and lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and mind and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind (2:2-3).
If every nation and race doesn’t begin with the biblical reality of our global spiritual brokenness and deadness, there is no way forward. Without the biblical reality, there is no humility, there is no grace, there is no healing by the power of the Holy Spirit.
2. God’s grace starts in one place – the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (2:4-6).
We are all equally dead in trespasses and sins and we are all equally invited into the rich grace and love of Jesus Christ that brings salvation, healing and hope.
3. True reconciliation to one another can only be experienced in one place – the Body of Christ.
Ephesians 2:1-10 describes the vertical peace that we can have now by grace through faith. Ephesians 2:11-3:13 describes the horizontal peace that is achieved through Christ. Christ has reconciled both Jews and Gentiles in one unified body; Jesus himself is the source of our peace. By abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, he created in Himself one new man in place of the two, making peace and killing the hostility (2:14-18).
The unifying and empowering presence of the Spirit is the One who will move Jesus’ mission of peace and unity forward. As God’s holy temple (2:20-22), we mediate the presence of God and his message of peace through grace together as one.
Together we serve, worship and love one another as one!
As we move forward in this study of Ephesians, would you pray with us?
Please pray for humility, for God’s grace and for a passion for the peace and unity Jesus desires for us to experience in His church.
My personal prayer is that we each walk away from our study of Ephesians with a biblically-saturated understanding of one of the most urgent issues facing our culture today . . . because the gospel message is for all of life.
P.S. If there is a way I can be praying for you or encourage you as we walk through this topic together, I would love to know.