Most of us tend to gravitate toward those who are like us. Who think like us, maybe look and dress like us or share the same interests as we do. Sometimes this can be helpful- like when we want to connect with other writers or quilters or craftsmen who we can learn from and share insights. We create problems, however, when our differences become exclusive and create division among what God intended to be His deeply connected 'body'.
Ephesians 1:4-6 says, speaking of everyone reconciled to God through Christ, “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world” –before every sin and shameful act I’ve ever committed or even contemplated committing.— “to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love, He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will—to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.”
Chosen, to be His holy and blameless child, brought near into a family bonded by love and grace. Bonded by the Father Himself.
When my husband and I were first married, I felt out of place at every family reunion and gathering. While I knew technically I belonged—I had a contract stating this, after all—I never quite felt like I fit. In part, because I didn’t always understand his parents and siblings. They had different traditions, different ways of looking at the world. Much more glamorous backgrounds.
Whereas I’d dropped out of high school and quickly spiraled into homelessness, they all had prestigious degrees and jobs. I thought they judged me, and I’m pretty sure they felt I judged them. At first, our interactions were awkward and stilted, sometimes, even tense.
If I hadn’t married my husband, I don't think any of us would’ve spent time together. I would’ve migrated toward “my people” gathered over on the campgrounds or outside the discount grocery store- while his family would’ve engaged their friends at the university or organic juice bar. But over time, held together by the legal contract that bound me to my husband and his family and him to mine, we learned to merge. We learned to understand one another and even appreciate our differences, and so much beauty has come from that.
In the first century, through Christ, God was doing similar work. He was uniting two vastly different people groups into one family, bound by grace and the blood of Christ. In this group, this family, this living body, all belonged. No one stood on the fringes and no one was excluded or merely tolerated. They were chosen to be holy and blameless, in Christ. That was their new identity and position. Whatever they’d been or done prior, didn’t matter. Whatever they thought of one another prior, that didn’t matter either. They now belonged to God, who had adopted them, legally and relationally, according to His will, and this brought Him great pleasure.
Regardless of our backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicity, in Christ, you and I are part of an even greater family, one we’re to love with the same inclusion, the same tenderness, and grace, with which we love our daughters, mothers, and siblings. Sometimes, our differences might rub up against one another. Sometimes our pasts might feel hard to shake. But whatever threatens to divide us loses power in light of God’s grace. When we live in that reality, we bring our Father great pleasure. We demonstrate the miraculous, mysterious power of the gospel, a gospel that always unites.