Jul 21, 2012
Paul’s radical inclusion. Ephesians 2:11-22
Paul sometimes gets a bad press, but without Paul there would probably be no church. If we look at Jesus in the four gospels we would be forgiven for thinking that Christianity was only for Jewish people. Jesus himself has very little contact with non Jewish people, and on one occasion when he does, he seems to call them dogs! It is Paul who broadened faith in Jesus to everyone. We see this clearly in today’s reading:
The Messiah has made things up between us so that we’re now together on this, both non-Jewish outsiders and Jewish insiders. He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance. He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped. Then he started over. Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody. Eph 2:14-15 (The Message)
This idea does not just appear in Ephesians its fullest expression is found in Galatians whee Paul says, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”Gal 3:28 (NRSV) In other words Paul is saying that in God’s eyes because of Jesus, there is no discrimination between races, social class or sexes. There is nothing that is so sweeping in any of the four gospels.
If Paul is right and this is the way God sees us because of Jesus then the implication is that we are called to accept those who are different. We have to accept people of other races, churches, genders and tastes. We even have to accept those who would like to do things in a new way at St Stephen’s and those who want to maintain the loved traditions of the past. For all of us are “a dwelling place for God”. (Eph 2:22)
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