What is this series about?
Through this series we will be studying the book of Ephesians and learning about our position in Christ, our life in the world, and our attitude toward the enemy.
Scripture Reference: Ephesians 2:11-22
Big Idea: There is no “them”. Just Us.
- Christ came to build one humanity
- We are the ones who have now been given a missionary calling. How good of a job are we doing?
Three different ways that this plays out:
There is no them , just us…
1. ….regardless of what church you go to
- We need to be thankful that there are so many churches in this area serving Jesus.
2. ….regardless of what color your skin is
- Your responsibility is to go to the groups that feel “othered” and to let them know that they are loved.
- Take initiative to know people that are different than you.
3. ….regardless of the sin you bring with you.
- We have decided that there is an abnormal and normal list of sins. There are those with the bad sins and then there is us.
- Scripture Reference: John 3:17, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Questions to Ponder:
- What was God’s purpose in choosing Israel?
- What can we learn from that?
- What groups do some groups “other”?
- What can we do to grow our love for people different than us?
The Gospel of Us
by Scott Sutton
One of my all-time favorite Jesus stories is of his encounter with a Samaritan woman (Gospel of John, chapter 4). If you aren’t familiar with it, take a moment to read it today. The Samaritan woman was a different gender, nationality, race, religion, and morality than Jesus. You probably couldn’t design a person more “other” than Jesus if you tried. Yet Jesus saw through those differences and gave us a model for how we can bring reconciliation and healing to our culture and our communities.
He reached out to her. This is where most of us get stuck. Jesus was already at the well when the woman approached it. She didn’t come to see him. She didn’t even know who he was. More so, it was culturally taboo for them to even speak to one another. Jesus could have ignored her and both of them would have gone on to have perfectly normal days. Instead, he took the initiative to reach out to her. It surprised even her. And it changed her forever.
He valued her. Jesus asked her for the one thing that she could provide for him that he couldn’t provide for himself – a drink of water from the well. It was a simple, subtle gesture that dignified and esteemed her. While valuing the other person doesn’t necessarily require us to ask them for something, we should always be quick to recognize the value, dignity, and beauty in others and ground our discussions foremost in that truth. He didn’t get distracted by where she came from, what she believed, or what she had done.
He listened to her. As you read the story, try to identify who is guiding the conversation. At times it seems like Jesus is; at other times, it seems like she is. To be sure, he is quick to get to the heart of an issue, but he follows her lead when she changes the topic from her past relationships to a socio-religious concern about worship.
He focused on the heart of issues. When she brought up her concern about worship, Jesus could have taken the road that we see occur so often in our culture and on social media. He could have gotten sidetracked into a debate about who had the rights to the well in the first place or what got the Samaritans into their current situation to begin with. He could have gotten onto a tangent about Samaritans’ lineage, practices, or beliefs. We tend to label and categorize others (“if they believe X, then they must also believe Y and Z”, “another person I know who believes X is _______; therefore, this person must be _______, too”, “people who are from X must feel this way about Y”, etc). Or he could have verbally attacked her based on her character or her position in life. We see all of these things (and more) quickly and violently derail conversations in our culture all the time. Instead, he stayed focused on the heart of the issues at hand.
He rejected distinctions between “us” and “them”. When she made the statement “we Samaritans … you Jews,” Jesus acknowledged that those distinctions exist, but was quick to cast a vision of unity and inclusion between Samaritans and Jews in the most beautiful way.
He brought good news. He didn’t let the opportunity pass to tell her that the Messiah she was waiting for had not only come, but was speaking to her now. He spoke truth to her while sharing eternal hope, unwilling to compromise either.
Our culture is only going to grow more divided, church. If not the gospel, what other force is capable of healing and reconciliation?