For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.
A central theme among the early Christians was the natural divisions between Jews and the Gentiles. Before Jesus came, the division was clear. Jews were the chosen people. They had God’s promises. They followed God’s covenant.
The gentiles didn’t. They were immoral and awful pagans who were outside God’s steadfast love and faithfulness.
St. Paul says that the mystery of Christ is that the Gentiles, the outsiders, are united in God’s promise with the Jews. In Christ, they have unity and salvation.
Contemporary Americans generally acknowledge that God unites people of all times, places, and cultures in Christ. We affirm diversity in Christ.
Where is there division? Christians look to build their unity on a number of things that aren’t Christ. Maybe they want a charismatic pastor so the people can unite around a visionary leader. Maybe the people love the way a congregation feels or the way other people treat them. Maybe they want a common set of traditions, the same altar and font that their parents used years before them.
But none of these is our true unity. They all can fail. They all can change. Only Christ unites us.
Listen to the sermon here.