Neighborhood Study Guide
"I'm a Christian, but I really don't feel the need to be a part of any church."
Have you heard (or made) statements similar tothis? Do you resonate with it? Why do people so often 'like Jesus, but not the church'?
Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision,which is made in the flesh by hands—
Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to thecovenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both haveaccess in one Spirit to the Father.
I love going to church because of the
(insert great activity here)
. But I wish the church would just stop
(insert annoying activity here)
. The music is too
(insert loud, soft, slow, fast, sleep-inducing, stroke-inducing,cliched, confusing, Coldplay, traditional here)
. Also, the church doesn't care about
(insert pet issue here)
.They only care about
(insert money, converts, buildings, tradition or 'a bunch of boring stuff' here)
.Christians can just be so
(insert West Coast judgmental stereotype of Mid-West here)
. I find it easier toworship God
(insert 'by myself', 'in nature', 'on a bike', 'with my dog', 'in a pub' here)
. After all, when Jesus said
(insert vague, misquoted, Bible reference to community here)
, that's church!
There is much confusion and frustration regarding the church these days. What does it mean to be a part of a church?What should the church do? Why is church so... well, see above.
Church is the theme of this next section of Ephesians (chapter 2, verse 11 through chapter 4, verse 16. This themehas been hinted at from the beginning of the letter. In chapter 1:22, Paul says the work of God is not simply to savepeople. God, through Christ, is making a new people – the church. This church is the body of him ‘the fullness of himwho fills all in all.’ This is a grand claim which seems a far cry from the church we see every day.
In fact, the church can and has been the source of much frustration and confusion. The church is often disregarded interms as varied as irrelevant, abusive, boring, unnecessary, disconnected from the true message of Christianity. Inrecent years, several books have been written saying that church as we know is all but dead, or needs a radicaloverhaul.
So, it is important that we bring our experiences and expectations and hold them up to the words of Scripture. Whatdid the early church look like? What was it about?
Ephesians 2:11-18. We will focus on 2:11-12 at first.