Today we begin the first of eleven sets of “proverbs” that Circle of Hope has collected over the years. They describe our distinctives as a church and provide everyone aspiration for who we need to be and how we need to act. The first line below is the title of the section, and describes a general distinctive. The line in italics is the proverb or conviction that describes our character as individuals in Christ who are formed into a body.
Fomenting diversity and reconciliation is at the prophetic heart of our gospel.
We are always trying to stretch across barriers: across racial/ethnic, class and cultural divides.
Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt from it
Read Ephesians 2
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
More thoughts for meditation
We love the spirit of Paul’s teaching in Ephesians. What a visionary! He is talking about destroying barriers between people—in this case between Jews and the “gentiles” (everyone who is not a Jew), who experienced barriers of religion, ethnicity and history. He wants to see Jesus end that hostility. His vision kindles fire under our love for mutual respect, generous acceptance and peacemaking.
What we often do, however, which is popular with so much of the world, is appreciate his teaching but leave out the Savior who makes it possible. We tend to think that tolerance and diversity as ideas in themselves can be sustained without Jesus—as though the thoughts are powerful enough to change the world! But Jesus is our peace and by his redemptive death and resurrection, we can be formed into a people that actually transcends boundaries as a community. We demonstrate that kind of community in each cell, in each congregation, in our church—as well as in all the ways we directly partner across the rest of the world with many different people groups. The Holy Spirit empowers us to cross society’s boundaries through relating—living in love and working together with a common purpose.
Suggestions for action
Pray: Create from me the new humanity. Undo hostility in and through me.
Don’t merely stretch across a barrier out of your prophetic heart and personal goodness today. Let Jesus stretch you. Let’s look around and see the divisions. Imagine what Jesus can do about it through you and through us. What is the Lord’s strategy?
Read more in A Circle of Hope, Jesus at Work among the Next Generation of the Church, chapter 10. [Amazon]
Today is Anthony of Egypt Day!
This is your first reminder of the year to visit our spiritual ancestors at our growing collection at Celebrating our Transhistorical Body. We see ourselves as part of the body of Christ: past, present and future. The memorable people from the history of our movement have much to teach us and many ways to inspire us.
The father of the resistance and restoration movement that came to be known as monasticism is with us today. Visit him at this link.