January 18 I Tuesday
“For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility...” —Ephesians 2:14
Evangelical author Stuart Briscoe once said, “When God created Adam, He created an individual, and when He created Eve, He created something completely different—He created society. If the answer to the fallen individual is Christ, the answer to a fallen society is the church.” Reconciliation to God starts individually for each of us, but God’s agenda is much greater than that. He is creating a new humanity that is united in Jesus Christ, which is why the church is everyone united together in Christ becoming a community of people who impact and change the world around us.
Paul’s great dilemma in establishing the early church was one of disunity between the Jews and Gentiles. The Jewish people had the covenants, the patriarchs, the law, the Temple worship and the divine glory as children of God. They had hope and they had God, but the Gentiles were without this. Paul describes the Gentiles’ condition as foreigners, aliens, separated, excluded, without God and without hope.
The Jews and Gentiles were very different, and their differences had become divisions. The purpose of the Jewish nation was that they would bless the world and their presence would enrich the Gentiles. Instead, they became elite and arrogant, but as children of God, they could always rationalize their standing.
In society today, there are legitimate differences that exist, which have become illegitimate divisions. Prejudices exist against gender, age, race, culture and even abilities. This creates divisions and divisions become destructive. Paul tells us, “[God’s] purpose was to create in Himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility” (Ephesians 2:15-16). As this reconciliation is in Christ, then the division and fragmentation are a spiritual issue at root which can only begin to be rectified at the cross of Christ.
The true ingredient of uniting us together is the presence of God, and we need to get right with Him first, before we can get right with others. If we see it as a triangle, at the apex is God with oppositions on either side—perhaps a Jew on one side and Gentile on the other, or a husband on one side and wife on the other—and as we climb closer to God we become closer to each other. This is why Paul brings everything back to the cross of Christ. When divisions are formed and barriers are put up, it is about self-justification, but in coming to the cross of Jesus, it is about humility and unity.
Prayer: Dear Lord, I pray for Your churches everywhere to be united in You and break down divisions that inhibit Your work in this world. Thank You, Lord.