From a strictly Christian viewpoint one can look back in hindsight through the Old Testament and clearly see that God’s purpose was to draw the Gentiles into the body of faith through the Jewish people. But verses such as these as well as dealings in the early church reveal that it was a complete surprise to everyone when God brought the Jews and Gentiles together with no prescribed “hoops” through which to jump. (The word “mystery” doesn’t mean something magical or puzzling, but something that had not previously been made known.) It was a complete shock that the Gentiles were to be seen as religious equals, having the same access to the throne of God with no distinction between the two.
What distinctions do we make within the body today? What labels do we slap on ourselves and others? Am I a conservative Southern Baptist homeschooling housewife? What if I were a liberal Episcopalian childless-by-choice corporate warrior? The path I walk with Him might look different. Would it change who I am in Christ? There is only one label I really need to wear. (Sing it with me – I am a C…. I am a C-H… I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N.) How it must grieve the Son to see us constantly dividing the body He gave His own life to unite. How it must grieve the Father when we divide ourselves into groups and cliques whether consciously or not.
We should be one. Now until He returns we won’t agree on everything. You might sprinkle, I might dunk, but as long as we agree on the Lordship of Jesus Christ then we are one. The mystery is that I can worship with my sisters of different political ilk, from different walks of life, with completely different style of dress, or even from a totally different culture and we are one. The Spirit within us is greater than any divisions that exist. When we come before God in humility the dross of one-upmanship is burned away. Petty arguments cease when we communicate together with the Lord of Lords. You can’t look down your nose at someone else when your eyes are fixed on Him.
“The only way the world is going to see a clear picture of Christ is to see unity because we are his body and where there is discord, then the body is: disconnected and separated and maimed and crippled and the world doesn’t really see what they should see of Christ. So it behooves us to be aware that God calls us to unity. The end of all disparity, the end of all bitterness, the end of all prejudice, the end of all those things that separate us, the end of all pride, primarily, to be replaced with humility.” - John MacArthur