Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Church and Unity (2)

Coming back to Ephesians 4:3, one has to understand something about the demographic structure of most congregations in the times when Paul was still alive. Most congregations consisted of two distinct groups of people, those who had come to Christ from Judaism and those who had come to Christ from heathenism. And it is clear that there was a lot of friction between these groups. Those Christians from a Jewish background had grown up with the conviction that Jews and heathens were not allowed to mix. Peter’s reaction in Acts 10 is a vivid example of this. These two groups of Christians were constantly in competition with each other which led to a lot of jealousy between the groups. Ephesians 2:11 gives a hint of this jealousy: “Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts.”
Keeping this in mind, it comes as no surprise that Paul urges his readers to live a life which is totally different from that which they are used to. He starts chapter 4 (the second part of Ephesians which gives more practical guidelines for the Christian) with these words: “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Humble, gentle, patient, love… Not really words that one would associate with the normal person of those days and even less so when these attitudes had to be demonstrated between Jews and heathens.
What seems to be clear at this point is that Paul is asking these Christians to do something which would not normally be found amongst non-Christians. In fact, I believe that what Paul is asking for is virtually impossible. Just coming back to my own background where I grew up with the extreme racial tension in South Africa, I can see how difficult it is, even for Christians, from different races to accept each other unconditionally.
But this is what Paul is asking the Christians to do. And Ephesians 4:3 reveals the secret which enables us to do this.


Thursday, July 3, 2008 - Posted by | Alternative Society, Church, Mission, Unity

1 Comment »

  1. […] have much chance to get behind a computer. But I want to have another look at Ephesians 4:3. In my previous post I mentioned that Paul was asking the readers to live a life which was totally strange for the people […]

    Pingback by Church and Unity (3) « Mission Issues | Tuesday, July 8, 2008 | Reply

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