The Standard May 13, 2023
When Paul addressed the church at Ephesus, largely a Gentile audience, he reminded them that they had been dead in their transgressions and alienated from Christ. They were foreigners or outsiders to the covenant that God had with the nation of Israel. The Jews and the Gentiles historically had been in two very separate camps. All of that changed with the cross of Christ.
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 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, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2: 14-22)
At Farmville United at the Cross on the Sunday morning of the Dogwood Festival, all local churches were invited to come worship together. The Reverend Rocky Stone preached on part of this Ephesians passage, stressing that “what unites us in Christ is greater than anything that separates us.” Living in the grace and love of Jesus Christ is more of a unifying bond than any possible barrier that ever could be erected. Worship styles, personal tastes, skin color, family backgrounds and socioeconomic status all fade away at the foot of the cross. We have more in common with a fellow believer who looks nothing like us than we do with a non-believer who appears very similar to us. Who we are in Christ creates a unity that makes any other commonality dim in comparison.
Jesus himself is our peace. In the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount he challenged us to be peacemakers. ”Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9) Stone explained that peace was “not the absence of conflict,” but that it was finding where God wanted his ways to flourish in order for there to be abundant life. He said that Jesus called us to be peacemakers but not peace lovers. It is okay to desire peace, but not at the cost of avoiding conflict. There are times when we must stand up for what is right or for those who have no voice. Speaking up for people who are being mistreated is the way of Jesus. Done the right way, it can result in peace. May God make us more and more unified and peaceful as those who follow the way of Christ.