Please find a quiet place to focus on these scriptures, asking for an open mind and heart to hear God’s wisdom for us today. Ephesians 2:11-18
New International Version (NIV)
Jew and Gentile Reconciled Through Christ
11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you 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. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Peace. Isn’t that what some beauty queen contestants say their wish for the world is, “world peace”? Having just viewed the movie “The Lone Survivor”, I was struck by the hatred and fear the soldiers from both sides had for each other – people from completely different parts of the world. Both “sides” were following orders from superiors, and the outcome was not good for most of the participants in the battle portrayed in the movie. In Ephesians 2:11-18, Paul declares that Christ is our peace, EVERYONE’S peace. Not just the Jews, not just the Catholics, not just the Baptists… not people on one side or another. The Good News is that God sent Jesus for all, and our challenge is to make sure everyone around us has this “peaceful” and saving knowledge. That is our simple mission, though sometimes it doesn’t seem simple.
I confess that I am guilty of the “them” versus “us” mindset living in this world. I naturally gravitate towards people similar to me, to my upbringing, to my experience in life. However, I find it so freeing to be able to think of myself as an “in Christ person”, that I am no better or worse than my neighbor or co-worker. God treasures all of us equally, and through the Apostle Paul, is gently reminding us that our ONLY identity is to be “in Him”, in Christ. I noticed a couple weeks ago that in the first two chapters of Ephesians, the NIV translation has “in Christ” over a dozen times. Reminds me of the “practice makes progress” mantra my piano teacher used to constantly say to me… “in Christ” is something Paul wants us to remember and live by.
Dear Father, thank you for sending your precious Son to preach peace to us, no matter who we are. We are all as one church, “in Christ”, having “access to the Father by one Spirit”. Now, please help me live and act like it every day – help me remember there is no “us” or “them”! In Jesus’ name, Amen.