Ephesians 2:11-12 The Gospel and Racial Reconciliation

Noted international evangelist Billy Graham stated: “Racial and ethnic hostility is the foremost social problem facing our world today.” This startling observation suggests that racism is more than just one of many problems in the world. Rather, it is a major issue and one of global proportions. Such a recognition calls for deliberate and responsible attention by all people. Racism is having a devastating effect on the whole world. But the problem is not exclusive to the secular realm. The Church has also contributed to this tragic scene with an “indifference and resistance by Christians who are intolerant toward those of other backgrounds, ignoring their spiritual and physical needs.”

Yet this ugly stripe of guilt in the Church is inconsistent with her very identity as bearers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Love is to be the badge of Christian discipleship, not bigotry, preference or racial bias. At the very heart of Christianity is God’s acceptance of anyone through Christ regardless of race, language or class. Thus while in many cases the Church is a contributor to the problem, Christians with the gospel of the redemptive work of Christ have the answer to the world’s quest toward racial reconciliation.

Christ destroyed the enmity in order that he could reconcile both Jew and Gentile believers to himself in one body. By his death on the cross he killed the enmity that existed between God and men. As he was put to death, he put to death Jewish-Gentile hostility. Reconciliation with God is now a fact, but within the context of the already accomplished reconciliation of Jew and Gentile. Thus in v. 14 reconciliation happened between Jew and Gentile, and in v. 16 God and man are reconciled.

According to Eph 2:11-22 the Church must organize itself and operate with a priority of unity achieved through mutual acceptance. The Church was founded upon the basic principle that all dividing walls have been destroyed by Christ’s death. They continue to exist in the non-Christian world, but among the fellowship of believers such distinctions have no place. The racial conflict between Jew and Gentile was notorious in its day. Nevertheless God, through the sacrifice of Jesus, overcame the enmity. That was a demonstration of the power of the gospel. And that same power is present in the Church today. “Only ‘the immeasurable greatness of God’s power,’ exhibited in the resurrection of Christ, could break down ‘the dividing wall of hostility’ and unite Jew and Gentile ‘in one body.’ It was miraculous. So is the overcoming of the barriers of race and rank today.”

Has the Church really lived up to its “newness” in Christ with the oneness of all people in the Church? What effect would the Church have on the world if in great contrast to the habit of racial segregation congregations displayed a unity of its members from all different backgrounds sharing in common worship around the table of communion? Would not the world, which sees no possible solution to the race problems, sit up and take note? Would they not ask how the Church manages such a feat? And would not the Church then have the opportunity of pointing the world to Christ?

Bruce W. Fong

Heart Preparation
Read Ephesians 2:11-22. How can your life better reflect the fact that one of the things accomplished by Christ’s death was reconciliation among men? How can you support or encourage greater diversity of people in our church?

Posted on: March 27, 2014 - 10:00PM

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