Because it is through Him that we have access by one and the same spirit to the Father. Now therefore you are no longer strangers and sojourners but truly fellow members of the regime of the holy-ones, set apart, consecrated family members in God's household.
     And you are built in together in [such] a house upon the foundation laid by apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus the cornerstone, in whom the entire construction holds together. For it is in Him that the entire house is fitted together and it, in the Lord Himself, grows into a holy shrine. And that is why you too are being fitted - made compatible with all the others - to be a habitation worthy of God Himself dwelling [in us] by His Spirit. - Ephesians 2:18-21

Building a house

A new house is being built. PICTURE: Greyson Joralemon/Unsplash 

 

"The message here, the Good News, is the stupendous announcement that with God the Father’s endorsement of the work of His Son, Israel’s Messiah, He is at work in a new creation project in the context of a world He deeply loves, even if it be over-run by various tribes, peoples, nations, movements, ruled by an 'angry violence'."

It is not only that those “far off” need reassurance; those “near” are equally sons of rebellion, children of violent anger, who also need to hear the word of the Lord, need to become filled with the grace of salvation.

The interesting challenge for us reading this is to rightly hear Paul’s encouragement, so powerfully formulated here. There were those of Jewish background, those who were disciples of John the Baptist, and presumably also proselytes and other Gentiles. All are addressed in one exposition. 

Does the word of grace proclaimed to the nations not have a reciprocal effect upon those “brought near” because of their birth? They may have had a calling to be a light to shine upon the nations, to embrace the peoples of the Earth with the message of God’s grace and mercy, and to be a positive demonstration of the way of the Lord, but only the Messiah could draw the nations, only the Messiah by His own work could “make us both one".

The message here, the Good News, is the stupendous announcement that with God the Father’s endorsement of the work of His Son, Israel’s Messiah, He is at work in a new creation project in the context of a world He deeply loves, even if it be over-run by various tribes, peoples, nations, movements, ruled by an “angry violence”. It is into that milieu that the members of God’s household are to go out into the highways and the byways and invite people to share in the Master’s feast. This is the feast that endures in its meaning and purposes because it is the feast of the Master’s household, convened by the Master’s own Son.

I guess we could spend a lot of time fretting over all those far away who we are called to invite to come near. Some are beyond our limits. There are also those geographically close who, it seems, will be oblivious to our being “fitted” for service in this household. Some with credible credentials of this world may even claim to be bearers of peace, even as they are beyond our abilities to reach them.

But this is the word to us, those who have heard and believed, those who in Christ are now fitted for household service, those who have been brought near to do so by the One who, in His death, has overcome the ethic of angry-violence that would dominate our lives without His victory. In Jesus’ resurrection, God, the Creator-Redeemer has, in this Man, who is now seated at His right-hand, definitively and forever begun again and will complete His purposes. So it is not just about “near” and “far”; it is also about those who live “now” and those who have lived and those who will live “then”. And that “then” means the fellow image-bearers of times past as well as those who, in God’s own purposes and will come after us according to God’s own timing. 

Human responsibility has awesome dimensions; we have been called to take responsibility in our generation for the forming of our own and future generations. We have been called to take up responsibility in terms of what has been bequeathed to us by God’s providence from former generations of whom we are the beneficiaries. What will we do with what has been passed on to us?

When male and female unite as a distinct “new thing” under heaven, whether it is by explicit planning or, merely from the actions of a loving and carefree instinct – let alone the possibility of a violent and irresponsible will – they/we find a “new creation” in the announcement of the arrival of a living child, one of a new generation, given into their responsible parental hands.

These days the “carefree instinct” has leapt the bounds of marital union – even as it seeks a definition of marriage that claims to “overcome” the male-female presupposition of marital sexual-union. (Here is a determined search for laws and public ethical principles that will “normalise” divorce, surrogacy, and much else under the mythic rubric of “equality”.) But human responsibility for who we are, for what we inherit and what we do, even when human presumption is at its loudest in claiming to have dissolved human responsibility in order that it be reconstructed according to what we wish to do, cannot be dissolved at the behest of alternative abstractions that are concoctions devised to subvert by confrontation the acknowledgement of such creational differences. Neither technology, art or pharmaceuticals have that power.

Those caught up in this anarchic culture, whether one is born from such pseudo-emancipatory projects or whether one is the co-perpetrator of such progressive liberation, are among those who are to be presented with the Good News of a generation-to-generation stewardship begun for us in the work of Jesus Christ. Those believing in Him discover the commandments they considered to be so onerous are but a liberating promise.