If the Book of Ephesians has a central theme, it is the unity of church. The apostle Paul was writing this letter to the church. We must never lose sight of that.
In Chapter 3, Paul focused on the fact that two diverse groups – Jews and Gentiles – had been brought together by the grace of God. Twice, Paul wrote, “by grace you have been saved.” And multiple times, he noted Gentiles had been separated from God and his people.
For Gentiles, the situation before Christ had been bleak. Paul described Gentiles in numerous ways – separated, alienated, strangers, having no hope, without God, far off, and on the other side of the dividing wall of hostility.
But Jesus brought peace. Gentiles and Jews have been united by faith in Christ into one “household of God.” No longer does the law of the Old Testament play a role in who is “in” and who is “out.” Everyone can be “in” by the grace of God through faith.
This is a powerful picture. “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”
This household imagery pervades the New Testament – as well as the Old Testament. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are one family. And we care mutually for one another. We build each other up. We look out for each other. We are loyal to one another.
And we are being built up by the Holy Spirit. We are being built “together.” We are being increasingly joined to one another.
I’ve written about a woodshed I built this summer. There were times when I stood back and looked at the result of my labor, and then I grabbed a few more screws and put them into the boards holding structure together. I was more firmly attaching the boards to each other because I didn’t want them to come apart.
This is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Here’s an important truth from this passage: The Holy Spirit, if he’s working in you, is going to put you together with his church. Read the last verse in this chapter again.
Some people claim to have the Holy Spirit working in their lives, but they are not part of any church body. I then have to wonder at their claims of having the Holy Spirit, because Paul is explicit here: “In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
Remember, Paul was writing to a church, not to an individual. He was telling the church collectively that it was being built up into a dwelling place for God. Single pieces of wood aren’t much use for a building unless they are connected to the others.
Spend some time today considering your connection to the church.