Family Bible Study lesson for Aug. 19: The Body of Christ - God's Family
August 3 2001 by Catherine Painter , Ephesians 2:11-22

Family Bible Study lesson for Aug. 19: The Body of Christ - God's Family | Friday, Aug. 3, 2001

Friday, Aug. 3, 2001

Family Bible Study lesson for Aug. 19: The Body of Christ - God's Family

By Catherine Painter Ephesians 2:11-22 From under the dryer I heard a beautician berating the poor man. "That scoundrel walked out! After his wife raised their house full of children by herself, he came home and that fool thing took him back!"

"What a love story," I thought, about to commend the couple; but remembering my mother's quote: "Speech is silver, but silence is gold," I kept quiet.

Several women took turns playing "Ain't It Awful?" Noting my failure to join the game, the beautician lifted my dryer, demanding, "Well, what do you think?"

"He's a real candidate for the garbage can," I said, "like you and me when God took us back."

"You'd take him back?" she screamed. I sensed her trying to get under my skin, but I was already there and didn't have room for her.

"It's not about me," I said with a doleful look. "I don't know if I'd have the grace to take him back, but her love was much like God's love for us the day He took us back at Calvary."

The room was deathly quiet. An invisible wall rose, leaving me outside. I figured I'd find another shop.

Need for Reconciliation (Eph. 2:11-12) Robert Frost said, "Something there is that doesn't love a wall." Paul reminds the Ephesians that they were once without hope. The dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles was forbidding. No Jew would even help a Gentile in childbirth to avoid aiding another Gentile's entering the world. When a Jew married a Gentile, the Jewish family held a funeral, never speaking the child's name again.

Ephesians weren't atheists; they worshiped many gods, not knowing the true God. They hadn't shared the covenant God made with Abraham (Gen. 17:1ff), when the sign of the covenant was circumcision, or the covenant God made with Israel on Mt. Sinai (Jer. 31:1-3, Ex. 20), the sign being The Ten Commandments.

Means and Purpose of Reconciliation (Eph. 2:13-18) Paul earlier contrasted their condition progressing "from death to life" (Eph. 2:1-10). Now he describes their moving "from distance to nearness," as though their orbit changed. Formerly away from God's favor, they now bask near His light.

God didn't accomplish this by making the Gentile a Jew, or the Jew a Gentile, but by making the two into one new person. Visualize God's melting silver and brass and producing gold. Then at Calvary, Jesus reconciled the new person to God. Now, in Christ, they're one with each other and one with God.

This idea of oneness suggests a corporate body - the church, and that idea is prominent throughout the rest of the epistle. Paul repeats the word one, emphasizing Christ's unifying work: "made the two one" (v. 14), "one new man" (v. 15), "one body" (v. 16), and "one Spirit" (v. 18).

He mentions the Trinity (v. 18), stressing that our access to the Father is not a natural privilege, but a relationship of spiritual experience (see Isa. 54:2).

Results of Reconciliation (Eph. 2:19-22) God always intended to dwell among His people: in the Garden, tabernacle, holy places, temple and finally his church. We need a container to carry the water of life, and our best container is the church - the body of Christ, not the building.

It's within the body we find direction for working with God, courage for timid hearts, healing for inner wounds and strength for daily tasks. Often we find opportunity for reconciliation.

Once a sheep didn't come home. The shepherd searched and located it. Unable

to drive it home, and finding it too heavy to carry, he returned to the fold and brought the whole flock to the lost sheep. The stray followed the flock home. When a member strays, for whatever reason, it's the flock's privilege and obligation to bring it home.

I experienced this on my return to the beauty shop when I discovered that someone had joined me outside the dividing wall a week earlier.

"Quick! Tell me what's wrong with my life," she whispered. "I hate myself; my husband won't attend church, and my pastor can't stand me."

"I can only tell you what was wrong with my life," I said, and described my conversion to Christ. I gave her material to share with her husband. The next week she glowed, describing her new relationship with her Christian husband and reconciliation with her pastor.

The next week I inquired about her absence. She didn't work there anymore. God had offered me one opportunity to reach for her, and I recalled Jesus' warning: "Night is coming when no one can work" (John 9:4b).

Somewhere a sheep is lost and lonely, and we never know how soon it will be too late. I'll see you at the gate of the sheepfold.

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8/3/2001 12:00:00 AM by Catherine Painter , Ephesians 2:11-22 | with 0 comments
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