Key verse: Ephesians 3:10
Big idea: The unity of the church reveals the glory of the gospel.
Paul was a Jew, yet he sat in jail because he refused to quit carrying the gospel to Gentiles. Despite the deep cultural prejudices he had been raised under, he sat in jail with their best interests on his mind. It was a mystery. His message that the Jews and Gentiles should be one body and share the inheritance and the promises of God was incredibly strange. But it was a central part of God's plan. Jesus' redemption of the world is pictured by Paul as having three parts. First, He created a new humanity in His death, by becoming the second Adam and breaking down the barriers between us. Then, He rose again from the dead to present this new humanity to God. Finally, He ascended to Heaven to be enthroned and awaits making His enemies His footstool, ending the rebellion in the heavenly places when the new heavens and new earth are formed.
The united church is a living sermon. It proclaims to the world that the God who is strong enough to overcome social, political and racial barriers is the same God that overcame the barrier between sinful humanity and a holy God. It proclaims to the angelic powers that God is a reconciling God and what He is beginning, He will complete when He puts Satan under His feet. When we are who God intends for us to be, serving one another in love, we proclaim His wisdom and glory by our very existence! So Paul says to these Gentiles, "faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory." The face a Jewish man would suffer for Gentiles was glorious: the wisdom and power of God on display. It is in our love for one another ("with all the saints") that we can begin to understand the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge. Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen!
Discussion idea: Why do churches so often fail to cross the cultural barriers that the gospel overcomes?
Prayer focus: Ask God for the opportunity to demonstrate the unity we have in the gospel.