Ephesians 2:12 remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15 He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16 and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.
As you can see, the word that jumped out at me this morning is “hostility”. Jesus has “broken down” (v.14) and “put to death” (v.16) that which had separated sinful people from a holy God. Christ also removed the hostility between certain people groups by making them “one new humanity” (v.15) under the name of Jesus.
Reading this passage in our 21st century context it’s hard to understand how big a deal this was. Having Jews and Gentiles, slaves and masters, rich and poor in one faith community would have seemed ludicrous in Paul’s day. But through Jesus Christ the impossible became reality.
This morning I’m thinking about the hostility I see in the US, particularly in the political realm: republicans and democrats, conservatives and liberals, red state and blue state. The chasm between these groups seems like the Grand Canyon. And we’re not just talking about people with differences of opinion. There is a growing hostility, a loathing, a violence, an enmity, an utter lack of respect from one group to the other that is frightening to me. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which people at opposite ends of the current political spectrum might come together.
That said, the gospel of Jesus Christ has a 2,000+ year history of doing just that. I see glimpses of it in my own church. There are people at Rejoice Lutheran Church from the far right, the far left, and everywhere in between. And under normal circumstances such people would have very little contact or meaningful interaction with one another. Yet as one people who “love God, love one another, and love the world”, the mission of Jesus Christ binds us together who are politically far apart. To put it another way, that which binds us together is greater than that which separates us.
And so, against all evidence to the contrary, I have hope this morning.
Lord Jesus, bind us together who are far apart. Amen.