Thursday, April 26, 2007

Is It Any Wonder?

Last Sunday I taught on Ephesians 5 and 6. Part of my lesson dealt with the purpose of the church as described by Paul in Ephesians:

So that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 3:10 ESV
My basic question was this: How does the church display the multifaceted wisdom of God? Paul’s answer is found in the unifying power of the Gospel. It is through the gospel that the church can be unified, even though it brings such diverse groups, and often warring factions, together. This is seen most clearly in the fact that Gentiles are now included in the family of God.

In this case, Jews and Gentiles have been enemies ever since (and I might add, only since) the law was given to Moses. Under the Old Covenant, Gentiles were not allowed to mingle with Jews. Jews were not allowed to intermarry with the Gentiles. Gentiles were not allowed to enter the temple. However, under the New Covenant all those old barriers (or as Paul calls it in Ephesians 2:14: “the dividing wall of hostility”) are broken down. What’s more, Gentiles are being included in the new dwelling place of God. Not only are we Gentiles forbidden from entering the temple, we are now living stones in the temple and the Spirit of God dwells in us.

Likewise, the gospel transforms every aspect of life. When husbands and wives come together and are made one under the gospel, it demonstrates God’s wisdom (Eph. 5:18-33). When parents and children are for each other and relate properly to each other, it demonstrates God’s wisdom (Eph 6:1-4). When slaves and masters live in harmony with each other, it demonstrates the power of the gospel to restore all things (Eph. 6:5-9).

The gospel has the ability to heal every dividing wall of hostility. However, in our American churches today, it often appears that the gospel is impotent to display God’s wisdom in one key area. Race. Why is it that so many of our churches are self-segregated? We are a very poor witness to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. We say each time we gather, “there is no power in the gospel to unify.” This is a great sin and it will only be healed as the gospel is understood and proclaimed in the coming years.

But now to the title of this post: Is it any wonder? As I’ve been thinking about this over the last few days, a seed of an idea was planted concerning homosexuality in the church today. Why is it that the church is now rampant with this sin? It seems to me that in denying the power of the gospel to unite radically different peoples (race or gender or generational gaps, or etc.), we’ve settled for the idea that it is best to be united with those who do life the same way we do.

So, blacks do church with blacks, whites with whites. Inside the walls of the church, the young do church with the young, the elderly with the elderly. Men are leaving church in droves since that’s really just the place for women.

And now, since we have no answer to those things that separate us, let’s just whole heartedly pursue those that are the same, men with men and women with women. Let’s face it, without the gospel and the filling of the Holy Spirit, life really is easier this way and pragmatism seems to be a pretty cute little gospel. Until it kills us.

Check out what Hope for Chicago is doing to apply the gospel to race relations in downtown Chicago: JustMercy

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