One in Christ
Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household. Ephesians 2:11-19
The Milwaukee Bucks won the National Basketball Association Championship just a couple short weeks ago. If you followed the Bucks during the playoffs there was plenty of criticism of players and coaches particularly after each loss. Angry reactivity seems to be the default reaction among humans when things don’t go well. A coach is continually working to keep a team focused from outside distractions and scheming to build cohesion among the players inside the locker room. In my athletic coaching days, I loved to use the acronym TEAM which translated states: Together Everyone Achieves More!
In ensemble music, a similar dynamic applies; it is important to make the second violins feel as important as the first violins. Of course, we are always fighting our human tendency to see others “above us” as better than. The stars get the acclaim, but it takes everyone together to get the win or to make great music. I remember the day in a band practice when I wasn’t paying attention (I often led the class in goofing off) and the band director suddenly demoted me from first chair trombone down to the third trombone group. That hurt my pride, but it made the point that what we were doing together was important and the attention of everyone was imperative.
Unlike athletics, music, and any human endeavor the “Oneness” that is referenced in Ephesians is not the result of what we do, it is the result of what Christ has done. There is mystery in this, “He (Christ) has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity.” The difference between the Jew (those born into Israelite community with its attending laws and customs) and the Gentile (all who were non-Jews) in those days was great. The apostle Paul and others had proclaimed to non-Jews the Good News of God’s presence in Jesus Christ, and they were responding! The Holy Spirit was evident in these Gentiles. Paul contends that Christ Jesus himself has broken down any barrier and that now all who believe in Him are One with him and one another. There is mystery in this oneness. What binds us together is not theology, political views, or ideas about worship styles; we are One through the cross of Christ. Christ died for all, so that hostility between us could cease. Friends, in these fractious times, may the people of God reflect the Oneness that can bridge all divisions.
Gracious God, it is often hard enough to get along with people that I love. Yet you ask us to live in oneness with all who are followers of Christ Jesus, even when we disagree with them. Deepen our understanding and practice of our Oneness in Christ Jesus. Amen.