26 May – 1 June 2019.
Taiwan is full of social clubs that bring people together based on a shared interest. There are clubs for people who like dancing, who like hiking or painting, there are sports clubs that support particular sports teams, and even cooking clubs. But the church is not like that.
Whereas social clubs bring people together based on their shared interests, what holds the church together is simply the good news that Christ has saved us all. When I look at our community in the English Ministry I see people from different countries, different backgrounds and cultures, speaking different languages, and even coming from different religious traditions. But despite these many rich differences, what holds us together is the truth that Jesus Christ is our Saviour and Lord. Nothing else is important.
This is the great lesson taught by the letter to the Ephesians. In the ancient world Jewish communities survived by stressing their specialness: they stayed different and apart from others, eating differently, dressing and living differently, and stressing how different they were from those around them. But in Christ we learn that all those differences are ultimately meaningless. As Galatians 3:28 tells us, in Christ “there is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For we are all one in Christ Jesus.” The letter to the Ephesians stresses this same great truth, that all people and even all things in creation are all gathered together under Christ and his authority. Because Christ died for us all and is the Lord of us all, there is no longer any reason to have divisions or separations among us. As Ephesians teaches us, everything in heaven and on earth is brought together under Christ’s authority, because he is our one Lord.
So whereas before people separated between Jews and Gentiles, the good news of the church is that we are a universal community that transcends all human barriers and divisions between us. Our unity, our bringing together of all people into our community stands as a powerful sign of the universal authority of Christ as creation’s one and only Lord. That’s why Ephesians 1:21–22 stresses the good news that Christ “is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things.” Why does Christ have this great role? For the benefit of us all – so that we can all live together despite our differences, knowing that whatever our backgrounds and differences may be, Christ loves us all and unites us all in his love.
Or as Christ himself proclaims so beautifully in John 12:32: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all things to myself.” That’s his true declaration, and that’s our good news.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis