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Friends in the Community,

Greetings to all of you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I hope all of you are staying safe, cool and healthy, as we are getting our last pieces of summer completed and look forward to another school year.

Have you ever taken the time to read through the book of Ephesians? This is one of the most interesting books of the Bible. It was written to a church in a community that wondered how the people of God could live with and worship with people who did not look like them, talk like them, act like them, or think like them. The author is concerned about how God’s people can look past their differences and find ways to live together and worship God together as one body made up of many members.

Do you ever have questions like that about the communities in which we live right now? When we walk around our communities, we see many people. Oftentimes, we meet people who do not look like us, talk like us, act like us, or think like us. We have many differences among us just like the people of Ephesus had differences among them. Oftentimes, when the author of Ephesians discusses the differences among God’s people, the author discusses Jews and Gentiles, but the differences among the people ran deeper than just having the DNA of Abraham or not. The differences they saw also had to do with skin color, race, language, and many others. We know this because Ephesus was an important trade center. Cities with a lot of trade had many different people who lived and traveled in them.

The author of the book of Ephesus encourages the people in that city to find ways to look past their differences to what really mattered. What really mattered was the faith they shared and the relationships they had because of what God had done for them through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This salvific act of Jesus brought all of God’s people together into one family which is the Church, which is the body of Christ.

As was mentioned in one of the preceding paragraphs, we also live at a time and in a place where there are many differences among the people who live in our communities. Many times, we focus on those differences. We focus on the differences between incomes, races, lifestyles, and ideas. These differences can be quite divisive because we like to think that we are superior to people who are not like us.

Today, God is still speaking to us through the book of Ephesians. God is inviting us to look past our differences to what really matters. What really matters is that Jesus died and rose for all of God’s people. He died and rose for those who are like us, and He died and rose for those who are different from us. We are being called to enjoy the unity we have with God’s people instead of looking for ways to judge and tear one another down.

Seeing people as members with us in the body of Christ, the Church, changes how we relate to one another. When we see past our differences to see how we are all forgiven sinners allows us to look for ways to have healthy interactions with one another. It also enables us to look for ways to care for one another and to speak well of each other. We can see one another in the best possible light, as we are called to do in the Eighth Commandment, which says, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

When God’s people can look past their differences, amazing things happen. They become valuable to one another. They can share the love of the neighbor that Jesus calls us to have when He says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This love causes communities and organizations to be healthier and stronger!

My prayer for all of us is that we would hear the call from the book of Ephesians to look past our differences and to live as God’s people looking for ways to see our neighbors as being loved and valued as children of God.

Just a thought,

Pastor Josh

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