I’m aware that I haven’t given much biblical support for hetrogenous church on this blog. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is, perhaps, the most obvious place to look for an anti-homogenous church theology. The church in Ephesus has a mixture of Jewish Christians and Gentile believers. The Jewish Christians appear to have believed that their historical lineage made them somehow superior to the Gentile believers, who were beginning to see themselves as second class church members, mere after-thoughts in God’s plan of salvation. The two groups were in danger of polarising and forming separate Christian communities.
Peter O’Brien writes in his commentary that Ephesians 1:9-10 sets the theme for the whole letter.
Ephesians 1:9-10 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment– to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
This makes great sense of the opening verses of the chapter, as Paul gives at least three reasons why the Ephesians should stick together:
- Every Christian believer is equally blessed by God, Jewish Christians have no more blessings than Gentile believers. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3
- Every Christian believer was chosen by God at the same time, before the creation of the world, so there are no afterthoughts, unplanned pregnancies, second class Christians. “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” Ephesians 1:4-5
- The way of redemption is the same for everyone, through the blood of Jesus (Eph 1:7) so that no one can boast (Eph 2:8).
And so, Jewish Christians and Gentile believers, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit– just as you were called to one hope when you were called– one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:3-6
Paul’s anti-homogenous church theology was based on God’s purpose of uniting all things in heaven and on earth in Christ. Churches which form along homogenous lines, in multi-cultural settings like Ephesus, deny by their very existence that redemption is by grace through faith alone. If we form culturally homogenous groups, it becomes clear to outsiders that it is our culture and not the gospel which unites us. We need to work hard on cultural diversity in culturally diverse communities, as a witness to the power of salvation through faith in Christ alone.