The Ephesians 2 Gospel Project: Exploring Cross-Cultural Unity

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The book of Ephesians is one of the most talked about in scripture. In the first sections (Eph. 1-3) it describes what God has done for humanity; the good news, our salvation. In the next part (Eph. 4-5) it gives instructions on how to live in light of those blessings, and (Eph. 6) ends with an encouragement to stand firm in the face of hardships.

For the purpose of this post, we will be looking specifically at Ephesians 2. It’s in verses 13-17 that we read about God’s mercy and grace in sending His only son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in order to save us from our sins and trespasses. But, there is much more to unpack within those sacred words that we must address, because if we’re not careful we may just miss it. The passage reads:

In the Ephesians 2 Gospel Project, we contend that the Atonement of Christ offers a salvation to reconcile social-horizontal divisions and group hostilities in the family of God. And this salvation removes social boundaries just as thick and hostile as what existed between Jews and Gentiles in first century Palestine.

A Modern Need for Atonement

In our world today, we continue to see conflict among God’s people. A desperate need for change. Christians as the religious majority in some way, played a role in all of the following events:

  • The Holocaust in Germany
  • The 1994 Genocide in Rwanda
  • Slavery and endentured servitude in America

“When groups feel threatened, they retreat into tribalism. They close ranks and become more insular, more defensive, more punitive, more us-versus-them.”

–Amy Chua Law Professor, Yale University

Killing The Hostility 

We ask the question: why is this gospel text concerning the social effects of the Atonement so widely ignored?

We know that Jesus came to share his own glory with us, the same glory that the Father gave to him, and to make us a display of his wisdom in unity to the powers and principalities. Yet, we still see a sort of ‘tribal violence’ that takes place among groups of people towards other groups of people, racial division that prevails. Our diversity is not an accident. God created and ordained the cultural diversity of humankind in order to more fully reflect his glory, his majesty, and his truth.

The gospel offers reconciliation to groups in conflict (Eph. 2:13–17) and, at Mission ONE, we  envision God’s people embodying Christ’s peacemaking work—his shalom—through the gospel.

For this reason, we aim to start international conversations with scholars and practitioners to explore collective identity conflict; in the nature of sin relative to collective identity conflict, and within the Atonement and how it addresses collective identity conflict.

There remains much to explore about collective identity conflict—relative to Ephesians 2:11–22, and we are committed to providing more resources to help you.

In the Webinar ​​“The Atonement Relative To Collective Identity Conflict,” Werner Mischke, Vice President of Mission ONE, and Kristin Caynor, resources developer for the global church, cover the biblical context of the passages, historical examples of violence between peoples, a conversation about sin, Atonement, and the gospel, a reflection about glory, and more. You can watch it here.

At Mission ONE, we believe that contextualizing biblical truth removes unnecessary cultural barriers to the hope found in Jesus Christ. We also believe theological education should be available to any person—no matter where they live in the world.

The Ephesians 2 Gospel Project has much to gain from your participation. We need the diverse perspectives of God’s people around the world, and look forward to being able to share those perspectives with people everywhere, so that his glory may be more fully known in his people.

We hope you’ll join us and that we may learn more about how our differences are the very thing that actually unites us all.

You can find additional resources regarding this topic on our website.

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