Question 3: Am I doing my part?
Ephesians 2:14-22 and/or 4:11-16 (A sermon starter for each passage is provided)
Doing your part might be compared to each a piece of the puzzle. Like to do puzzles? Favorite types of puzzles? When or where you tend to do puzzles? Frustration of missing pieces.
Sometimes doing our part is connected to relational unity (as is emphasized in 2:14-18), other times it is more connected to the functional contribution (the "works of service" - 4:12). God desires both - some of us tend to be more relational, others more task-oriented.
Sermon outline #1: Ephesians 2:14-22
"reconcile" (16) is a strong term (apokatallasso) meaning turning from hostility to friendship. The double prepositions (apo, kata) emphasize the totality of this reconciliation. The concept of "peace"- used repeatedly in this passage (14, 15, 17) - brings to mind Christ's beatitude "blessed are the peacemakers" (Matthew 5:9) and Paul's call for peace (Romans 12:18)
- Christ's Peace - the Destruction (14-16)
- "has destroyed the barrier" (14). Usually don't think of "peace" and "destruction" together. Churches having problems with being barrier- free, usually think of physical obstacles (VISUAL?) but here it is relational and specifically racial obstacles. "dividing wall of hostility" is racially based (14) and undermines the goal of ONE that Jesus prayed for (John 17:20-23) and paid for through the cross (Ephesians 2:16).
- Such strong language in this passage to describe the situation sin has created ("barrier," "dividing wall of hostility"- 14), and to describe the solution the cross created - ("destroyed" - 14, "abolishing" in 15 means "invalidated" or "rendered ineffective," "put to death their hostility" - 16)
- Christ's Peace - the Creation (15-22)
- The Process of the new creation (15-18). Through the work of the cross, we are individually a "new creation" (II Corinthians 5:17), but equally important collectively a new creation - "His purpose was to create one new man out of the two…" (Ephesians 2:15). It is a creative act that brings into existence something that did not exist before - a "new humanity." Idea of "access" (18) ties in with concept of being barrier-free, i.e. equal access laws, etc.
- The Picture of the new creation (19-22) "new" (kainos) does not refer to something recently completed (i.e. new car rolling off the assembly line, new and improved) but new in kind and quality (something that did not exist previously). Picture album (word pictures) - "fellow citizens," "God's household," "holy temple of the Lord."
VISUAL of cross - vertical bar (salvation, reconciliation with God) and horizontal bar - reconciliation with others, oneness (reconciliation took a "cross" - 16).
Sermon outline #2: Ephesians 4:11-16
Paul was writing to believers to help them grow, and their church to mature.
- Building Up (11-12)
- Equipping - different roles (4:11 - apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors & teachers) all with a similar goal - to "prepare" or "equip" (refers to a situation in which a person or thing is in need either of completion - achieving wholeness or restoration - overcoming brokenness).
- Engaging - similar goal (4:12) - "God's people" (not some of God's people, not even most of God's people, but everyone of us who are followers of Christ). VISUAL of dominoes lined up to knock each other down - what if you remove one or two? The ripple effect breaks down, momentum is lost. Works of "service" (diakonia) - applies broadly to whatever is done in the name of Jesus. Different roles on a team, but all working toward a common goal - "so that the body of Christ may be built up"
- Growing Up (read 13-14)
Move from infancy > maturity. VISUAL of a highchair - how do we know if a person or church is growing up? Signs of growth / development:
- You're maturing when you're getting beyond yourself (13a) - "until we all reach unity in the faith." Spiritual maturity moves us from being Self-centered > Christ-centered ("…in the Son of God"), from being a consumer (spectator-critic) to being a contributor.
- You're maturing when you can feed yourself (13b) - "reach unity…in the knowledge of the Son of God…" Mature believers can feed themselves (Hebrews 5:11-6:1)
- You're maturing when you know better (14). Say to kids as they grow, "you ought to know better." Not manipulated ("deceitful scheming", not distracted ("back and forth," "here and there").
Base your final challenge on the passage and sermon starter that you selected - the first might be a commitment to do something to build relationships, the second something to serve.
Reflection & Action
Use the guide for either personal devotions or group discussion.
© Wayne Schmidt