“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he 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. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” (Ephesians 2:11-18)
Paul, in this letter to the church in Ephesus, like many of his letters to various churches wanted to encourage and exhort his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Here he wanted to remind them of what brings us all together and that’s Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross. At one time the Gentiles (non Jews or the “uncircumcision”) were far away from God and the promises that God gives to His people. There was no hope. However because of Jesus Christ and what He has done, He made a way not just the Jews but the Gentiles as well.
Because of Jesus Christ, we can not only be reconciled to the Father but we can be reconciled with one another as well. Jesus brings peace to those who were “far off” and to those who were “near”. All have the opportunity to be reconciled and to be at peace.
This week, let us be reminded of this great news. We are not left without hope. We have hope in Jesus Christ. We are not left without peace. We have peace through Jesus Christ. And we get to share that message with the world to everyone.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)
Paul, in his letter to the church in Ephesus, wanted to encourage and exhort the people there (as he would at all the churches he helped to plant). In this part of the letter, he wanted them to be “imitators of God”. In the verses just prior, Paul said to “be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
To imitate God is to show grace and mercy. God has shown grace and mercy to us through His son Jesus. Jesus loved us so much that He gave His life as a sacrifice for us even though we did not deserve it. He loved us so that we wouldn’t have to remain in sin but that we could be forgiven of our sins and adopted as children into the family of God.
This week let us walk in love. Let us be imitators of God. Let us show grace and mercy to others. Let our words be spoken with truth in love. And let us share the good news of Christ to a world that needs to hear this good news.
“Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.” (Ephesians 3:7-13)
Paul always wanted to encourage others to continue in the faith. He loved the cities in which he ministered and planted churches and Ephesus was no exception. In this letter to the Ephesians, Paul shared again with them of the mission that he was called to do by God. He was given this mission by God to share the Gospel. It is God working in and through Paul that this is accomplished. And even though there were hardships and struggles, Paul wanted the Ephesians to not be discouraged.
This says a lot about the love and concern that Paul had. Even though he was the one that was suffering, he didn’t want others to be discouraged by the things he was going through. I’m sure there were moments where he was discouraged but yet he persevered because he trusted God and the message he was given to share.
This week let us encourage one another to be faithful to message we’ve been given to share. Let us love one another and build one another up. And let us persevere in the faith. God loves us and is there for us. He will always be there for us and will help us to endure.
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
As we enter this Christmas season, let us have caring and forgiving hearts towards one another. Let us love one another and let that be what defines us. We may not have been so kind or caring or forgiving as we should’ve been earlier in the year, but we have a great opportunity to do that now.
It may seem tough at times to forgive but remember that God has forgiven us through the work of Jesus on the cross. We are able to have a renewed and restored relationship with God because of that. Along with that, He has given us a new heart. A heart that is better able to be kind, to be tenderhearted, to be able to forgive.
This week and in this Christmas season, let us forgive and let us show kindness to one another.