For he himself is our peace, he has made us both one and has broken down in the flesh the dividing wall of hostility.

Ephesians 2: 14

 

It seems that I have consulted with myself and granted permission to me to stretch the application of this verse some in order to make a point. Additionally, I am not sorry for my actions. This verse is part of a much longer sentence that runs across several of our verse divisions, and the point involved is a discussion about the way that Christ’s sacrifice has eliminated the Jew and Gentile divisions and separations that existed in his day and that were enforced in the Law. This point had a much broader application than just the way that people of different religious beliefs would live, for it also engaged with issues of race, nationality, gender, and societal status. I believe that God’s desired outcome in giving us the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, is far more inclusive regarding the issues that divide people than just religion or any of the other concerns and causes that might have been prevalent in the time when Paul wrote his letter to the church.

 

We live in a world today that is far more divided than it has been at any other time in history. We also operate in a manner that is guaranteed to continue existing divisions and to promote even greater ones as we go along our way. The communication tools that we have at our disposal are powerful entrenching tools when it comes to constructing these canyon-like separations, and we have fabricated rules for using these means of communication that allow for words, comments, and commentary that would have been largely unacceptable in the past to be viewed as normative today. It seems that no one holds anyone else to a standard of behavior when it comes to what is said and that none of us are willing to impose restraint upon ourselves, either. We have entered into a time when our political discourse is neither civil nor is its objective really to bring us to a place where reasoned thinking leads to mutually satisfactory processes and decisions.

 

So, here is a radical proposal. It would seem that Paul stated a concept for healthy human interaction that was one that God threw out to us a very long time ago. That is, in Christ we have our answer to all that separates and divides us. Through His blood we are all brought together before the Great High King, and it is His law of love, grace, justice, and redemption that becomes our new, final, and permanent rule of law that considers all and that prevails in everything. In this kingdom of God’s, if it does not speak Christ, I do not say it, and if my words do not seek to create understanding and unity, I rethink and restate them until they accomplish this goal as a higher purpose than just driving home my point. When I am gathered around Christ’s eucharistic table in company with those who may see an issue differently than I do, our goal is no longer winning the debate; instead, it becomes sharing in the Lord’s feast of unity that is formed around His Gospel. Even when I do not share this faith with the person that I am engaged with, my objective in all matters should be to demonstrate Christ in what I think, say, and do. Divisions are made my people, they are fueled by Satanic fire, and they are always contrary to God’s will and outside of His desire for the way that His people would live in our world.

 

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For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.

Ephesians 2: 14

 

Just to be clear, Paul is talking about Christ as the one who causes and is peace for us, and those who were divided are Jews and gentiles. Although Paul was looking at his Greek and Roman region when he speaks about gentiles, I believe that he knew that Christ’s work of reconciliation was effective among peoples from all across the world. In Christ we are all either a part of the family of God’s chosen people or we are not; so, in the sense that is being discussed, we are all either Jews or gentiles. Nothing in our earthly make-up can change that. Our DNA, nationality, language, and history are of no significance in determining our relationship to God and so, in light of knowing Christ, to one another.

 

Still, peace is a really big thing to consider. To be at peace means that I am settled, not engaged in conflict, resolved and actively in relationship with others. All of this applies to God and me and our relationship, and it speaks to how I view the world around me and myself, too. This sort of deep, internal peace in people is the way that God designed our world to be. We lived day-by-day in harmonious and close interaction with our Creator and with each other. All of the strife, anger, and hostility that exist in our world are the result of the brokenness, the separation, that sin has caused to exist between people and God and between us. When we rebelled against God, we began to construct walls of division, and that massive building project continues unchecked to this day.

 

Christ is the only answer that exists to this human drive toward conflict and its attendant pain. In Christ and through the work of His Spirit in us we are restored toward God’s original design of hearts and souls that are truly at peace. It is the peace of Christ that opens us up to understanding people who are different from us and to entering into the risky environment of relationship with them. This same peace permits us to live in an unsettled world, for it takes us deeply into trusting the Lord for the care, provision, and security that we require in order to walk confidently through each of our days. The peace that Christ brings to my heart leads me to see others as He does, and that same peace leads me toward others with the desire to share its blessing with each of them.