Ephesians 2:19-22 The true church of Christ: holiness and inclusiveness
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Paul brings Gentile believers to the realization of their current state of blessedness, being full member of God’s household. The foundation of this household is Christ Himself who unites people of different races or moral condition into one unified structure of believers. If the foundation is built on Christ, the structure will become holy and yet inclusive, which is a true manifestation of life in the Spirit.
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…
The Gentiles’ present day position stands in stark contrast with their pre-Christian days; they are now full citizens of God’s Kingdom, being members of God’s family. Hence, they have full access to the Father and having equal rights to the inheritances as that of Jews.
Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,
While the foundation of the Jewish community in the Old Testament (the Old Covenant) is built largely on the Law of Moses, whereas the foundation of the Christian (the New Covenant) community is built on Christ. Hence, the ministers of both communities who are builders of their respective foundations operate very differently. The Old Covenant ministers operate in the temple purification rituals with physical sacrifices, but they are ineffective in regenerating the people towards a new Kingdom’s lifestyle. The ministers of the New Covenant: apostles and prophets, usher in the new life by regenerating hearts, and have more glory than the ministers of the Old Covenant (see 2 Corinthians 3:6-8). The New Covenant ministers operate in the power of the Spirit in forgiving sins, in breaking curses of poverty and sickness.
Christ Jesus is the cornerstone, which refers to the anchor stone the builders use to align the rest of the building structure. Christ is that Spirit that all New Covenant ministers draws from and operate in. In the New Covenant community, Christ becomes the head of the church, He expresses His attributes through the believers and imparts new life to all who are filled with His Spirit.
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.
The community of believers (consisting of Jews and Gentiles) is described as the body of Christ; a temple structure that is a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. The key point in the analogy of the New Covenant community as a building structure emphasizes the importance of human reconciliation. Christ comes to bring peace on two dimensions: the vertical (between God and man) and horizontal (between fellow men). It is in these two dimensions that the community continues to grow and evolve displaying more and more of the attributes of God.
1. All children of God regardless of their religious heritage are full members of God’s Kingdom with access to its inheritance: you are fellow citizens with the saints. Hence, it is important that new believers do not feel inferior to those who are veterans of the church. Although all children do not have the same maturity or fervor towards the Father’s work, they are nevertheless legitimate children of God. Hence, we have to accord the same level of respect and potential to all.
2. Holiness and inclusiveness is the distinctive feature of a church with Christ as the foundation. The distinctive feature of the Old Covenant believers is in observing the ceremonial aspects of the law and its rituals. Whereas the distinctive feature of the New Covenant church is in living out the fruit of the Spirit, in being like Christ in His holiness and inclusiveness: in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. A healthy and growing church consists of members whose lifestyle is progressing towards the purity of Christ. At the same time, the church does not despise those who are still struggling in darkness. But to empathize with their struggles, while helping them to overcome. Being inclusive does not mean condoning their sinful lifestyle, but to walk with them at their level while discipling them towards holiness. In the age of the Spirit, the church will be stripped of her impressive religious facet and captivating doctrines to reveal if her true foundation is Christ.
3. As a person grows closer towards God in his mindset and values system, he inevitably will also grow closer towards his fellow men. The cross has two effects: drawing people towards God, and towards one another. A believer’s walk with God can be observed through his relationship with others. He will be more willing to share in the joys as well as the sorrows of others; he will be a peacemaker; he will also play a more active role in discipling younger believers. If a church’s foundation is truly of Christ, you will see people living godly lives, and drawing closer to each other and serving one another.
1. Do you see yourself with as much potential as believers who appear to be more mature?
2. As you grow closer to God, do you see yourself also growing closer to others and playing a more active role in their lives?
Dear Lord, help me to be a Christian that is growing in purity and able to identify and walk with those who are struggling with the flesh. Give me the ability to help others integrate into the church regardless of their backgrounds. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.