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 t
o 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.
Dividing walls, hostility towards those who are different from us is part of
our nature. If I look at how it was with Israel, they were so keen on keeping themselves separate from the Gentile that they often went against Gods will for them – to be a light to the nations. A story that made an impression on me is the story of Zerubbabel …
Ezra 4… When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the Lord, the God of Israel, 2 they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said, “Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.” 3 But Zerubbabel, Joshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered, “You have no part with us in building a temple to our God. We alone will build it for the Lord, the God of Israel.
It can seem so right…or righteous but the message in Ephesians that we j
ust read has to do with inclusion…peace between people and God. It is about unity that comes from being in Christ, at one point we were separated from God but now we are all one with Him in Christ. I had two families approach me this week asking if they could come and visit the church but their opening statement was we are “such and such a denomination”…but we would like to visit this church. My response was that we don’t really recognise denominations we celebrate our unity in Christ. This needs to become our predominant message to the world… 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. If we are happy to celebrate how the blood of Christ brought us peace with the Father then we should also acknowledge that that peace extends to those who have slightly different practices but put their faith in the same Christ as well.