This section began with Paul reminding Gentiles that they once were aliens from
the covenants of promise.
The section ends with Paul telling them that they are no more strangers and foreigners,
but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God.
Having explained how the two parties, Jews and Gentiles, were brought together,
he now shows them both together and details to them what their position is as members of the church.
In order to do this, he employs a number of figures and pictures.
It Is A Family That God Has Put Together.
It is a large family with one Father.
We have been adopted into the family of God.
As a believer, we have become a member of the body of Christ, and we now rest ourselves upon Jesus.
We are one with other Christians, and we are no longer alone.
God has placed us together.
We must keep in mind that, as imperfect as it is, it is the Church in any given community
that God has brought together for the purpose of serving Him.
The Church cares, prays, teaches the Word of God, and invites people to come to the Lord Jesus.
The Church will send missionaries around the world to tell the Good News of Jesus.
The Relationship Of The Family To One Another.
As Christians we are all related.
We have the same Father.
We are all brothers and sisters.
Because we are brothers and sisters our individual resources are ready to provide for the needs
of our entire family.
We are to minister to one another.
The joy of one should be the joy of all.
The sorrow of one should be the sorrow of all.
We are a family in which the strong bears the infirmities of the weak.
We should also prefer others before ourselves.
The home is but the miniature of the greater household of God.
A home is not made by those who live and eat and sleep under the same roof.
It may be a hotel.
This is not a home.
A home does not begin to be home until it is a place of mutual serving inspired by love.
There are many who meet together and hold the same creeds and repeat the same prayers,
but are not fulfilling their purpose as a family of God.
They have only the form.
Not until the spirit of love in Christ reaches out to serve and to love one another is it fullfilling
its purpose as the household of God.
We work with each other, but we don't "boss" each other.
Christ is the Lord. He is the Head.
Our loving and mighty Father leads us and directs us.
We Are All Different.
Christians are as different from each other as people are different.
We are all different, but we have the same Father and we look to Him for everything.
Without the diversity we would be as uninteresting as the grains of wheat in a wheat bin -- all alike.
Each member of the family has different ideas, different viewpoints, and different personalities.
It would be unrealistic for us to pretend that there are no differences among us.
It is because of these differences that friction often arises.
Such friction existed in the Christian communities of the first century as any causal student
of the Scriptures can observe.
Different viewpoints and personality differences are also causes of friction in our churches today.
"To dwell above with saints we love,
Oh, that will be glory.
But to live below with saints we know;
Well, that's another story."
There are also differences of gifts within the body of Christ.
Many of us tend to depreciate another's gifts and exalt our own.
We, sometimes, have a tendency to feel that what we are contributing is more important
and valuable than what others are doing.
1 Corinthians 3 reveals the division in the Church of Corinth over the human tendency
to identify with one teacher (Paul, Apollos, etc.) as against another.
So there is fertile ground for friction arising from differences and distinctions within the Church.
There should be room for different personalities and different viewpoints in our churches.
They can modify and balance each other.
The peace of a family is gone if any brother or sister seeks to dominate the rest of the family.
There is always a problem when one of the family is determined to have his or her way.
Many a family has been ruined by self-will.
And the harmony of many churches has also suffered by that same self-will.
From the time we were babies, we were grasping, pulling, and crying, "Mine!"
Watch babies in the same room go for the same toy.
There is the beginning of a war.
Today, there is always competition -- one person trying to get ahead of another; one church trying
to outdo another.
We see it everywhere.
We see it on the highway when someone is always trying to get ahead of you.
There is contention where many are wanting the same thing.
There is conflict, fighting, quarreling, and struggling with each other going on all the time.
We are always in a "rat race."
Nothing is more friction causing and more irritating, and nothing is more likely to disturb
the unity and peace in the home or the church than to have one of us posing as a prophet.
One who poses as a wise person who knows all the answers to all the problems
and even knows all the questions can really be upsetting.
All any of us can admit is our helplessness, our ignorance,
and our total dependence upon our heavenly Father to teach us all things.
We must demonstrate to our brothers and sisters and to the world in all we do and say,
"the fruit of the Spirit" in Galatians 5:22-23: "...which is love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law."
Verses 24 -26 goes on to say, "And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified
the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another."
Peace and harmony are possible and many here have found it,
but there is only one place in which peace is possible and that is in Christ Jesus.
Christians can live together in peace when each one is abiding in Christ.
Paul said in Philippians 2:2 " Be ye like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord,
of one mind."
How can we be expected to think alike and act alike when we are so different?
I believe that we misunderstand something fundamental about the meaning of unity.
To mind (or think) the same thing does not mean that all sense of individual thinking is
out of the question.
I believe that it means that all individual Christians have their thinking molded by the
impact of the Holy Spirit.
When you attend a symphony concert or a band, you don't hear a stage full of people
all playing the same note.
Neither are they all playing their own separate compositions.
Rather, they are all scraping, banging, playing, blowing, different parts clearly defined
in the musical arrangements under the direction of the conductor.
The result is not unison but harmony.
To live unitedly requires
So, we must pray that God will show us if we are scraping our fiddle in harmony
or just blowing our own horn and irritating the rest of the orchestra -- our brothers and sisters.
As a member of the household of God, we have an individual responsibility
to build up the unity, fellowship, and peace within the Church.
Our positive responsibilities are emphasized throughout Scripture and throughout the whole
of the second half of this Book of Ephesians.
One important responsibility and privilege is that of pride in the family.
People exercise their pride in that which they are interested (music, sports, etc.).
What about us?
We are of the family of God. Are we proud of it?
Are we showing our colors?
If we realized the truth of our position, we would be moved by it!
We would be thrilled by it!
We would praise its high and glorious privileges!
We would praise the name of our Saviour and Lord, and we would be anxious
to let the world know that we belong to the family of God.
With all of us, it must be our Father and our family before self.
1 Cor. 6:19-29 reminds us that "...we are not our own."
We belong to Jesus. We are no longer our own.
"Oh, the bitter shame and sorrow,
That a time could ever be
When I let the Saviour's pity
Plead in vain and proudly answered
'All of self and none of Thee!'
Yet He found me; I beheld Him
Bleeding on the accursed tree,
Heard Him pray, 'Forgive them, Father!'
And my wistful heart said faintly,
'Some of self, and some of Thee!'
Day by day His tender mercy,
Healing, helping, full, and free,
Sweet and strong, and ah! so patient,
Brought me lower, while I whispered,
'Less of self, and more of Thee!'
Higher than the highest heaven,
Deeper than the deepest sea,
Lord, Thy love at last hath conquered;
Grant me now my supplication,
'None of self, and all of Thee!' "
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White