September 20, 2021

One in Christ 18-07-2021

18th July 2021 Pentecost 8 (Eighth Sunday after Pentecost) One in Christ
(Scripture Reading: Ephesians 2:11-22, Mark 6: 30-34, 53-56)
By Heeyoung Lim
Ephesians 2:11-22 continues the theme of unity, with an emphasis on peace between two different groups. In verse 11, Paul contrasts the Gentiles’ hopeless condition before salvation with the Jews. The Ephesian church has experienced friction between Jewish and Gentile Christians. Hostility and hatred towards each other created a wall of separation between them, but Christ abolished the wall by making them one before Him. In Christ both Jew and Gentile have been united with God and each other. God wants us to be at peace with one another; He wants us to be reconciled to each other.
To tell another of our saving experience is to tell of God’s grace in Christ that brought us eternal salvation. Any boasting words from our mouth should speak about Christ and the gospel, not about us. Life separated from Christ is death, no matter what it may seem to be now. If you want hope for eternality, accept Christ’s salvation, serving in love. You cannot be joined to Christ and separated in hate and mistrust from other people. (22)
God did not leave the Gentiles in their hopeless condition but showed mercy and love. Christ abolished the distinction between Jew and Gentile. All people are now considered the same before God. His death on the cross made this wonderful thing possible. (13)
What is the relationship between salvation by grace and being created for good works? Salvation comes only through God’s mercy in Christ and the believers do good works in response to God’s mercy. Christ is the one who gives us peace with God, for He himself is our peace. God wants peace to be both horizontal and vertical, between individuals and groups. He wants us to be at peace with one another; and He wants us to be reconciled to each other, to be at peace with Him. (14)
Today’s story is about spiritual union between the two. We are brought near to God by the blood of Christ and made one with others. (13-18) I

believe we are part of God’s holy temple. (19-22) What does it mean to dwell in God? God lives in you through the Holy Spirit and Christ joins all believers together in God’s peace and love.
We can describe the difference between our life in Christ and before Christ. We are living in the place where God dwells as well as a threatened world. We all sometimes want to get away from it all, to retreat to a peaceful and quiet place, and shut out the busy world. What do you do? I love listening to music and reading a book.
In between today’s verse we have the feeding of the 5000. The Lectionary handles the feeding miracle next week, so that we are given just the few verses which precede the feeding and summary of activities which follows both the feeding and Jesus walking on water.
Mark 6:30-34 begins with the return of the twelve from their mission. In verse 7-13, they were sent out to heal and to teach and have returned. Verse 31 tells that “Many were coming and going, and they had no time to eat.” The disciples were again besieged by people, went through the countryside, telling everyone that Jesus was present. They became so busy that they do not even have enough time to eat. This overload of pressure has affected them deeply, both physically and spiritually. That is why Jesus took His disciples away to a deserted spot.
Jesus knew what ministry felt like to heal people, to preach from town to town with crowds following Him. He knew what it was like to get caught up in God’s work rather than caring for daily needs. He had compassion for the disciples and encouraged them to come away from the crowds to get some rest. (30) They got into a boat and sought to reach a quiet place, however too many people saw them leave. (32)
Jesus felt compassion for the people, viewing them as sheep without a shepherd. No animal is as dependent upon a shepherd as a sheep. Without the shepherd to lead, sheep wander aimlessly and get lost, even die of thirst. Without the shepherd, wolves can devour the sheep. Jesus viewed the people as helpless sheep. He led them and pointed them to the kingdom of God. Herod and other religious leaders however were lost. Jesus continued preaching, teaching, and healing the crowds because of His compassion and love.
In the last part of today’s text, news of Jesus’ previous miracle brought those with sick out to Him. Jesus revealed himself as a true shepherd through teaching, feeding, leading, preaching, and healing. He provided

divine hospitality. In verse 56, all who touched Him were healed, but his ministry did not end here. Jesus and His disciple’s ministry will be much longer and harder. As we know, Jesus saw the needy people as sheep without a shepherd. He did not treat them as an interruption. He offered God’s love and healed them. Jesus is our good shepherd; He will lead us in all aspects of life. May we be alert and open to opportunities to love and serve the Good shepherd.
However, it is important for us to see here that Jesus encouraged His disciples to stop and care for themselves. Jesus also encourages us to care for ourselves. Why do we keep busy when we need to stop and rest? Why do we choose not to rest at times? By not resting, we may be in danger of burnout. Was it to call the people to repentance and live God’s ways of love, peace, and justice? There would be valuable motivations and various reasons for the Lord and others. Do we emotionally and repeatedly feel ups and downs in COVID-19 pandemic? During our current lockdown, we really need good balance in all areas of our daily life and peace in all our relationships.
We are one in Christ; we still have walls between relationships and groups, but we have peace in Christ. The peace Christians have in Christ enables us to engage boldly in what may appear to the rest of the world as hopeless situations. One of theologian, Karen says, “Eliminating boundaries itself does not create peace. Peace comes only by eliminating the hostility behind the dividing walls. God does not merely tear down walls but unites people in the One who is our peace, creating one new humanity.” In this way we can play our small part in spreading God’s love and peace.
Today’s text urges us to let ourselves be built into a temple where God can dwell, rather than building walls that separate us. Each of us is called to be God’s co-worker in the ministry of peace and reconciliation. May the love of Christ abolish the unnecessary walls in our lives. I pray we will be confident in God’s power and united as one in Christ. May we be God’s temple and exercise self-care by resting in Christ.
Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)