The Apostle Paul could have been writing to the church in America today.
“And he (Jesus) came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him (Jesus) we both have access in one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:17-18, ESV).
In this one section of Scripture (Ephesians 2:11-22), Paul referred to physical differences that had resulted in ‘the dividing wall of hostility’: two people groups who were alienated from each other and derogatively labeled one another. In fact, scholars believe Paul wrote the letter to the Ephesians from prison in Jerusalem because of a false accusation that he had taken a man of a different ethnicity into the Temple. Certain Roman politicians even condoned the Jewish leaders executing people who had committed such a crime. Additionally, it was around this same time that Jews and Syrians were killing one another in the streets of Caesarea, a city Paul had recently visited.
Sound like the U.S. today?
So what is Paul saying? How does having access in one Spirit to the Father make a difference or guide our approach to the problems our country is facing today? Let’s take a much simpler example.
Eighteen years ago, my wife and I were on completely opposite sides of an issue. I could not fathom how she would want to disrupt our lives in such a major way. I was dead set against her thinking and let her know I thought she was crazy.
She had asked me if I was open to having more children.
From my perspective, our lives were already beyond busy, and I didn’t think I could handle one more thing. Our girls were 3 and 5 years old. I was a full-time associate pastor overseeing multiple ministries in a quickly growing church. Plus, I still worked a few shifts a month at the Psychiatric Emergency Department to make a little extra money. On top of all of this, we had just purchased our first home and I had a huge ‘Honey-Do’ list. There were many nights I’d come home from work, spend time with our family, and then work on the house from nine to midnight. I felt like I was already at my breaking point.
Today, we have four kids, one son-in-law and another son-in-law on the way! 😊 And I’m thrilled God changed my heart.
How did we get from being on opposite sides of an issue to being in full and complete, peaceful unity?
Jen had dared to ask if we could pray about it.
Honestly, I felt backed into a corner. How could I say no to praying about whether to have more children? After all, my title was “Youth and Family Pastor”! So I agreed to pray about it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about half-hearted, periodic praying. I’m talking about truly seeking God’s face for answers. We prayed every night for six months. And I sought God’s direction in my morning quiet time in the Bible, read books on the family, and even researched Christian viewpoints regarding family size.
Early on, my heart wasn’t in truly seeking God. So Jen called me out. She asked, “Are you really open to praying about having more children? Or are you trying to convince me, through your “prayers” that we shouldn’t have more children?” You see, in my ‘praying’ I had been asking God to help us be content with what we had or give us strength to deal with all the stress and issues we were already facing.
The problem was that I was using Christian words and activity to mask a heart that did not want to change or obey the Lord because I was afraid of what He might tell me to do. I was more interested in advancing my agenda. That is, until I met God in my quiet time one morning, and He changed my heart to reflect His.
What we learned through seeking God was this key principle: God is not of a divided mind.
When we encounter the Lord, allowing Him to bring our thinking under His direction, we are brought together. When we don’t ask God to take our side but get in line behind Him, we experience peaceful unity with one another as Paul describes in Ephesians 2.
A biblical example is when Joshua encountered The Commander of the Lord’s Army and asked if he was for the Hebrews or their adversaries. The Commander (the argument is strong that this was Jesus) replied, “No; but I am the Commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come” (Joshua 5:14, ESV). Joshua’s response was to fall down and worship him, submitting to His direction.
See, God is not for you and your opinion, no matter how deeply and powerfully you think you’re right. God is not on your side. The question is whether you will bow in worship and submit to God and His truth regarding the situation.
Dear Saints, when it comes to interacting with other believers in Christ, we must relate to one another on the principle that every one of us has “access in one Spirit to the Father.” (Eph. 2:18)
If we truly seek His face through this access we have, He will bring us to peaceful unity because He is not of a divided mind.
Dear Church, we have access to our Father through the Spirit through what the one and only Son has accomplished. Let’s show this dark and broken world what true, peaceful, colorful unity looks like.