Thanksgiving Day is a holiday we typically spend with our families. But when I was in graduate school, we were not able to travel home to celebrate it. We stayed on campus with dozens of other families who were mostly from other countries. We gathered this diverse group to create our own Thanksgiving feast. Some of our fondest memories of those years are enjoying this family holiday with friends and food from around the globe.
In today’s reading, Paul reflects on the status of Gentiles before and after the coming of Jesus. It was not a hopeful picture. They were “separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world” (v. 12). But when Christ came, everything changed for them (v. 13). Through His sacrificial death, Jesus destroyed the barrier between them, and “made the two groups one” (v. 14).
Because of their new identity in Christ, Gentiles were no longer strangers with God’s people, but became “members of his household” (v. 19). The family metaphor became a key way in which Christians understood their relationship with God and one another. They not only had God as their Father, but other believers became their brothers and sisters. This was true even of people of different ethnicity and social status. People who used to be enemies can now relate to each other as members of one family under Christ. This does not mean that we lose our ethnic identity as believers. Rather, we are given a new status in Christ that is even deeper.
>> No believer in Jesus should consider themselves as an orphan. We have been made a part of the largest and most diverse family in the world! Our love for one another will serve as a witness to the world of the power of the gospel to unite and reconcile. As the writer of Hebrews reminds us, “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters” (Heb. 13:1).
We confess that sometimes we don’t like other Christians. It is easy to let small things come between us, our differences of opinion, jealousy, selfishness. Lord, show us how to love others like You love us.