There are many cliché’s out there that go contrary to a lot of our human nature: “No man is an island,” “It takes a village…,” “Happy together,” etc. These clichés speak to our tendency to believe that what we could do on our own would be better with others. American culture often values the individual over the whole so long as the individual somehow manages to elevate the whole through it’s individualism. It’s a confusing prospect to chase your dreams and goals before all others while trying to improve the situations of others who may or may not have the same dreams or goals. The heart of this struggle in the human condition boils down to how we answer one simple question: Who is most important? Our human nature screams at us that we are or rather I am. I am the most important person to my own success and happiness, and that anyone who would be invited into my life must not impede or negatively affect that happiness. Ephesians 2 is going to give us a better way to live.
Christ as Cornerstone
There is no Christian faith without the life, death, and resurrection of the person Jesus Christ. He is the God-Man who has made a way for us to be reconciled to the God with whom we have been an enemy. Our entire belief system revolves around Christ. There is no good without Him. This is the most counter-intuitive and unnatural element of our faith. We are used to our entire existence being about us first and foremost. Our days are filled with ways we can make ourselves more comfortable or meet our own needs. But Christ changes all of that. Christ moves us from self-centeredness to selflessness. We are no longer primarily concerned with ourselves and our preferences. Instead, we look to the interests of others and put other people before ourselves just like Christ did. His example becomes the model for our lives and the most important piece around which God is building the glory of heaven. There is no more important relationship than the one we have with Christ and we are willing to lose everything else so that we might be with Him.
Diversity as Essential
Another tendency that we have is to gravitate towards those who are most like us. Same language, social class, or ethnicity drive people together like few things will. We feel very comfortable in our likeness and often feel very uncomfortable or fearful in diversity. We have trouble understanding people who act, speak, think, or live differently than us. Christ, however, much like He calls us out of selfishness calls us into diversity. Jesus has not simply saved a certain type of person as He has saved a diverse people. A people gathered from every tribe, tongue, and nation. Paul paints the picture of the community of God as if it were a building. As we have mentioned, Christ is the cornerstone, but the structure is made up of God’s people. The building is necessarily diverse with no singular group receiving preference or advantage. If you were to attempt to take a portion of the people out because of some unrighteous prejudice, the structure would not be sound. The unifying element within this diversity is Christ. There is no part of God’s temple that does not value the cornerstone as the most valuable piece of the structure, but there is no denying the value that Christ has placed on the diversity of His people.
Beauty as Result
This vision of what we have been brought into through the work of Christ is most beautiful to those who value Christ above all things. Where we refuse to see Christ as majestic and glorious in His grace, we will naturally diminish the beauty of God’s temple in our own hearts. We often get caught wanting to have the advantages of knowing Christ without having to make Him centrally valuable. Or we want to devalue the diverse people Christ has gathered because they are somehow not like us. The beauty of God’s temple as Paul describes it in Ephesians 2 is that Christ builds it, secures it, and glorifies it. We are not the point at all. He is. Where Christ is most highly esteemed in His beauty, the Church in its diversity will be cherished and loved. May the Lord so work in us, that as we grow to love Christ more deeply, we will grow in loving one another more effectively.