BY REV. CLINT LOVEALL - SPIRIT LAKE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
"For He Himself (Jesus) is our peace, who has made the two one and has torn down the dividing wall of hostility." Ephesians 2:14
While many studies are showing an increasing political division is plaguing America, we still have nothing on the Jews and Gentiles of Paul's day. In many cases, they wouldn't talk to each other, wouldn't sit and eat together, wouldn't even be in the same room if they could avoid it. History records that in the historic temple in Jerusalem, there was a sign on the wall that separated the outer court from the inside that read, in Latin and Greek, "Gentiles must not enter … Whoever is caught will have himself to blame for his ensuing death."
Now just imagine trying to integrate both groups into one single church! Imagine trying to convince both groups that because of what Jesus had done, there was no longer a separation between them — that their political, cultural, religious, and personal differences no longer mattered because they were united in Christ. Each group was sure they were right and each group was sure the other was wrong and Paul is trying to tell them it no longer matters because of Jesus.
Good luck with that Paul.
That's exactly that message that Paul is putting forth in the 2nd chapter of Ephesians. Christ has brokered peace between the two groups by tearing down what divided them; that whatever walls have kept them from peace, Jesus has demolished. The word "peace" here is helpful I think because it literally translates to something like "to tie together or make whole." True peace is never fractured but unified as one, and as such it is always this peace to which Christ calls. Peace is always more than simply not fighting, or ignoring each other, it is unity.
Lately, many Christians, on all sides, seem far too willing to hurl insults and demonize opponents in the name of the very one who commands us not to. When we allow ourselves to be divided by opinions or when we separate ourselves from others because they disagree with us, we weaken the body of Christ. We are invited to find peace, true peace, in Christ and allow him to remove the barriers that separate us from others.
We may all have our own various opinions on issues, but what we do not have is the freedom to wall off others with whom we disagree. To do so is to undo what Christ has already done and return to an old and harmful practice. As Christians, we are to pursue a peace which unites rather than separates and we are to love even those who have different opinions. Let us join Jesus in tearing down the things that separate us from each other. Christians should be examples of not only how it is done, but more importantly, who did it.