The Church and the Challenge of Unity – AB Moon Hing of South East Asia

Oct 11, 2016 by

Bible Study at Global South October 5th.

Ephesians 2:8-22 English Standard Version (ESV).

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. 11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.


The Challenge of Unity in the Church has existed since the founding of the Church. Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesian Church urging different quarters to close ranks for the sake of Christ. Though we are not there physically, we can still sense the horrible and devastative fighting in the early church. This problem is not only akin to the Ephesian Church. Its ugly head did rear up in the Colossian and the Corinthian Churches as well as others. It seems that this is not a church problem rather a human problem but aggravated by church practices and policy.

  1. Is the issue of disunity a church or human problem?

In the Old Testament, we see similar disunity among the people of God i.e. the Israelites. They were one race, one people, one faith, one tradition, and one nation – it does not exempt them from being disunited. One can understand when we describe the disunity between the Israelites and the Gentiles. Both claim theocracy but the God which one follows will determine his way of life and destiny. So faith in different gods obviously cannot lead to any foreseeable unity. Where in the Old Testament, we saw the discrimination, annihilation, killings, exploitation, destruction in the name of religion in protecting and providing for their own kind or those belong to the same faith. Such practices were also seen in the history of the church as well as in the other faiths over the centuries, even so today. We are still deliberating and seeking solutions for unity up to this day. Wasn’t there anything we could learn from the past 2000 years of church history?

  1. Is Theocracy the solution for unity?

Gradually, this world has evolved and in this last few centuries, democracy has gradually come into existence. It is now the dominant model of government for many countries in this world. To some, this is the answer for unity. It has also crept into the church government and many churches too has adopted democracy, even in the election of leaders and office bearers. Of course, there are those which are resistant to changes. Our Anglican Church is practicing a partial form or different shades of democracy with certain rights only accrued to leadership, such as the famous slogan – episcopally led synodically governed. Some called it the Westminster form of democracy with the three tiers of leadership. It is a rather stable form of government for unity and stability. Of course, it has its weakness.

  1. Is Democracy the solution for unity?

A return to Ephesians chapter 2, we saw Paul’s plea for unity within the church which consists of Gentiles and Jewish Christians. His heart was painful as he saw the infighting among church people especially having received the salvation of Christ and the truth of the Gospel. On one hand, it looks like they were fighting for rights but it was NOT; fighting for blessings but it was also NOT; fighting for control but it was again NOT so. Then what were they fighting for? A closer look will tell us that they are unwilling to change or to accept the other party by insisting on one’s own way – the Gentiles on their knowledge (v8) and their uncircumcised practices (v11), the Jews on their traditions, commandments and regulations (v15). So it is really not the fight on which God they believe in or their disagreement on the interpretation of the word and commands of God. Paul identified the root problem is their refusal to accept and adopt God’s design for His people i.e.

  • v12 – from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise
  • v19 – no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God

Paul stressed on the finished work of Christ and what Christ has destroyed and built in order for the Calling of God become a reality. His warning sounds loudly:

  • Not to be a blind follower of God and a legalistic believer of God’s commandments and regulations but to become a citizen of His Kingdom
  • Not to be one who only aspires and waits for God’s benefits and blessings but to become a responsible member of the household of God

Paul is calling everyone to live a life worthy of God’s rule, become a responsible citizen of God’s Kingdom as well as a faithful member of the Household of God.

Theocracy alone seems unable to foster unity as seen from church history, so is democracy. Paul’s seems to propose another model which he thinks can bring about unity. Though it is a challenge to switch the mindset and behavior of a long standing church, the punch line here is if it needs to be done, it shall then be done.

A structure joining together and becoming a temple on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ the chief cornerstone. (v20, 21)

  1. What does it require of us in order to become a Holy Temple? How to get there?

As a Member of church

As a Citizen of  God’s Kingdom

As a Member of a Family

Prayer Items:

  1. Ourselves – the willingness and humility to accept each other with our differences
  2. Our Church – the boldness to forgive and repent for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ
  3. Our Communion – the readiness to become a Holy Temple in the Lord
  4. Global South – to learn from the past and press on with the present and hope for the future





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