We have been hanging out with Paul as he writes to the church in Ephesus, and to you and me. Paul is adamant that divisions have been overcome in Jesus Christ. In our reading for this upcoming weekend, Paul sounds like a chiming bell as he says, “You are one body and one spirit, just as God also called you in one hope. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of us all, who is over all, through all, and in all (Eph. 4:4-5). Hear the rhythm? One. One. One. One. One. One. One.
So, as Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that working for you?” How is that working in your relationships? In the life of our church? In our state and national political conversations among people who virtually all profess to be Christians?
We have been taught by our culture and by bullies on the playground that the way to get what we want is by force. Brian McLaren in his book A New Kind of Christianity says that our approach to people who are different or threatening is to assimilate, dominate, eliminate, persecute or distance ourselves. We create an army of us, with all goodness and truth, against the army of them, who are evil and wrong.
Contrast that to the way of Jesus. In 1944, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from a German concentration camp. His reflections on God revealed in Jesus Christ are these: God lets himself be pushed out of the world onto the cross, evidence that God is weak and powerless. God’s weakness and powerlessness is the way, the only way, in which God is with us and helps us. God’s power is suffering. God’s omnipotence is vulnerability. This is the God of the cross.
The hiddenness of God is not a cloak of humility temporarily covering powerful glory in a sort of Clark Kent/Superman act. God is determined to relate to the world through vulnerability, through non-coercive love, through suffering service rather than through domination and force.
Do you get it? God unites all the divisions of the world in the broken body of Christ. Paul reminds us that God is breaking down the walls between people, but God doesn’t use a wrecking ball. God uses vulnerability and non-coercive love to change us from the inside out. When we choose vulnerability with others, when we speak our truth in love, when we forgive, when we work for the well-being of others, we are allowing ourselves to be broken in the name of Jesus Christ. Out of our brokenness comes Holy Spirit healing for the world.
This is so difficult that when it happens, it is clearly by the power and grace of God. And perhaps whenever it happens, if we listen closely, we can hear a bell chiming softly: One. One. One. One. One. One. One.
On the journey with you,