I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
Small, Local Expressions of an Eternal Reality
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit—Ephesians 2:19–22.
Our prayer is that Bethlehem small groups will be small, local, and visible expressions of the eternal reality of Ephesians 2:21–22. Paul writes that we, those who have been reconciled to God through the cross (2:26), are growing (present tense) into a spiritual house for the God of the universe. The God who rules all things has chosen to live in and with those he has redeemed from separation, alienation, hopelessness, and Godlessness (2:12–13).
This process, though, does not happen in isolation. It’s accomplished in community. “Being joined together” is not a phrase to be spiritualized or simply attributed to metaphor. The image is a building, literally stone laid on stone. It suggests that growth requires much more than conceptual unity (i.e. we all believe in Jesus). This ‘house’ requires pieces that are joined together, interwoven, and dependent on one another, built on a sure foundation, Jesus Christ.
Stones that all essentially look and feel alike do not a house make. They must be placed one on top of the other, each needing the other for the structure to hold. May we see deep and transforming growth among the body as we are joined together in dramatic ways by the Spirit through our small groups.
So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.—Romans 12:5