Reconciliation through the Cross
Do you remember the game red rover? The game has two teams, each team lines up facing the other and links arms or holds hands. Each team says red rover, red rover send, Johnny over, or whoever they want to join their team. Then Johnny runs as hard as he can to try to break through the other teams line.
The stronger the chain, the better chance the team has of keeping Johnny from breaking through. The goal of the game is to win everyone from the other team to become part of your team.
When I was in high school, I went on a college visitation weekend, and we played this game in the halls of the dorm room. However, instead of one line each team layered their line, making the link three lines deep. This unity of the three lines made it nearly impossible for a man to break through. Unity also makes a church strong, and the more unity we find in a church the more it may endure, and grow stronger and stronger.
The last time I preached, we talked about the church coming together under one purpose. This week the passage that we are looking at reminds us of who we are, and tells us the only way that we can truly become one.
Lets begin with who we are?
Lets read Ephesians 2:11-13
Once we were without hope, but now we have hope in Christ. Once we were far, but the blood of Christ has brought us near. Once we were outside the family, but because of Christ’s death we are now part of his family. This is who we are, Christians, members of God’s family.
Many of you, I am sure, have seen the movie or heard the story of, We are Marshall. The movie is based on a true story.
The movie begins with a football team, who is on the verge of excellence. After a hard loss, the team is flying back home, and the plane goes down, no one survived. However, a couple of players had missed that game, therefore survive.
The next year was more than a rebuilding year. A whole new team, new coach, with the exception of the couple. The season began rough, the player’s had their differences. The couple of player’s from the previous team wouldn’t unite with the rest. The team could not be brought together.
Until Coach Jack reminded the team of who they were.
Coach Jack says,
For those of you who may not know, this is the final resting place for six members of the 1970 Thundering Herd. The plane crash that took their lives was so severe, so absolute, that their bodies were unable to be identified. So they were buried here. Together. Six players. Six teammates. Six Sons of Marshall.
This is our past, gentlemen. This is where we have been. This is how we got here. This is who we are. We are Marshall.
That moment the team became united by the blood of six men. They were united because this was who they were.
As a church, this is who we are, we are Christians. We are the family of Christ, and we have been brought here because of one man’s blood. At one time we were sinners, at one time we had little in common, we could not play together, because we only had ourselves to live for, but now because of the blood of Christ, we unite, because we are Christians.
How then can we, Neelys Creek Church, become united?
It would be easy if all there was to it, was our vision committee deciding what we as a church are going to be about, and then all of us deciding we are going to support that vision, but being united isn’t that easy. Coming together as a church should not and cannot be about ourselves. It can’t be about Neely’s Creek, or any individual or family in Neely’s Creek.
Being united is all about Jesus Christ.
It sounds simple, but I am here to tell you that being all about Jesus Christ is not simple.
The only way that we can do it is by continually giving ourselves to him, because verse 14 says, for He himself is our peace.
Lets read vs. 14-18
In these verses we find that
It is Christ himself who has broken down the middle wall of separation and has made two very different and opposing groups into one.
Here Paul is talking about the disunity between the Jews and the Gentiles. In the early church the Jews and the Gentiles could not agree on anything. The Jews were part of the old team, and the Gentiles were the new team. However, through Christ and only through Christ, could the tensions that were present among them be reconciled.
Jesus died so that the two groups could become one family.
We see in verses 15-17 that through the cross all division between the Jews and gentiles were reconciled by the two being reconciled to God.
In other words the two groups had to be reconciled to God first, and in this they were reconciled to each other.
Therefore we learn that whenever we find divisions and disagreements within our church. Our goal is not simply to become united, but to first be reconciled to God, and in this we will indeed be united.
A theologian named A. W. Tozer points out that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same tuning fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow.
The same is true for us as a Church. When each of us tunes our own lives to Christ, we are in heart nearer to each other than we could possibly be, than if we simply tried harder to be united. Be united to Christ first, and we will indeed be one Family.
Vs. 19-21 says,
Therefore (because we are reconciled to God through the cross), you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
There is but one-way to build a strong church family by being united together in Christ. Let’s pray.