Lent Devotional: Ephesians 2

by Jonathan Haefs

Ephesians 2 (click here)
For [Christ] himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:14-16 and 19-22)

Reflection
The temple was a massive structure, dominating the Jerusalem skyline. You could literally see it form nearly anywhere in the city. The people lived in its shadow.

This was a constant reminder to all of many things: the presence of God, their call to the law, worship by sacrifice, sin causing separation, etc.  Yet, it not only reminded the people that they were divided from entering into the direct presence of the Lord… it also reminded them of divisions that existed between them and others.

You see, in the temple there were several courts where people could gather. The closest a non-priest could get was the court of the men… Jewish men that is. Outside of that was the court of the women… again… Jewish women. Then came the court of the Gentiles where all others could gather.

There was a division between Jews and Gentiles… a literal dividing wall. Much like there was a massive veil dividing the people from God’s presence in the Holy of Holies.

You are likely familiar with what happened to that veil. When Christ died, it ripped from top to bottom… symbolically showing that through his sacrificial death, Jesus atoned for our sins and opened the way for us to be reconciled with God. He killed the hostility that sin had caused and brought peace!

…but not just between us and God…

We tend to focus only on what Jesus’ death accomplished for our individual relationship with God, and we fail to see what he accomplished in our relationships with one another.

He “has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace…”

There is no longer Jew and Gentile separated by a dividing wall, but all who place faith in Christ are a part of a new humanity… united because of him!

It’s like Jesus’ death tore down the temple altogether to create a new one… not built out of stones with dividing walls, but built out of his people… uniting them together so that they, the church, are the very dwelling place of God!

“In [Christ] you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”

We are a community created by the cross! Do we live this way? Or… do we try to resurrect dividing walls of hostility?

If the church has been created by the cross then it is to live by the cross as a cruciform community.

Making Us One
*Lyrics by John-Mark Dorough, Joseph Wolnski, John Ball, Brad Brown, and Jeremy Moore

Father we have wandered
Fashioned empty idols that serve ourselves
Cast in our own image
Remind us who You are

Father we’ve forgotten
That You’ve called us together
To bear each other’s burdens
And worship You as one

Lord You tore down the walls
And You are making us one
Heal divisions between, give us unity
In Your bond of peace

At the cost of our desires
Teach us to be humble as You were
With gentleness and patience
To serve each other’s needs

Father be our anchor
In the storms that can divide us
Teach us how to listen
Build us up in love

Lord You tore down the walls
And You are making us one
Heal divisions between, give us unity
In Your bond of peace

One Word, one truth, one Spirit, one hope
One Church, one light, one body
Found in Christ

Lord You tore down the walls
And You are making us one
Heal divisions between, give us unity
In Your bond of peace

 
*All previous devotionals may be found at www.thejoyofglory.com
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

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