When we become one with God, we become one with his people.
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,
I have always been hypersensitive to interpersonal tension. When I walk into a room of people, I intuitively sense if any of the people there are uncomfortable around each other. It makes family gatherings very fun. Even though everyone might behave themselves and try to get along, it’s amazing how much people’s differences can lead to unspoken barriers or even outright hostility.
When I read the New Testament, I pick up very strong vibes about the tension between Jewish and Gentile people. It seems like they’re not only different communities of people, but they embody different beliefs, values, and practices that set them apart from each other. It reminds me of the differences between conservative Christians and the LGBTIQ+ community. It’s easy to see how different values and different heritage can create barriers.
Which is why it’s amazing that Paul says here that God has made the two groups (Jew and Gentiles) one new humanity. He doesn’t just say they can coexist in tolerance or even peace in their separate corners, but that they have been brought together as a new humanity. When Jesus died on the cross and the temple curtain was torn, he removed the barrier between us and God and brought down the “dividing wall of hostility” between different peoples. If someone becomes a Christian and becomes one with Jesus, they also become one with all his people. Remember a couple of weeks ago how we read about Jesus being the head of the church, his body (Eph 1:22-23)? If we are united to Jesus as part of his body, then we are intricately connected to each other as members of that same body. Presbyterians and Anglicans. Indigenous and Anglo Christians. Male and female. Gay and straight. None of the divisions that normally separate our world apply to God’s people anymore, because in Jesus we are one body. He’s given us a new identity and a new life with Jesus as our head.
As someone who feels the weight of interpersonal tension and hostility, I am marvelling at the power of God to reconcile such different people together. I’m also convicted of the times I draw lines that God doesn’t draw himself, and when I fail to recognise that my union with Christ means I am intimately connected to all other Christians whether I like them or not. Even in my own church community it’s easy to just gravitate to the people who are like me, and to ignore my unity with people from other backgrounds. But what a blessing that God has brought unity to all his followers. “For he himself is our peace.”
Jesus has made us one with God, and therefore one with his people. When we really grasp the gospel and our union with Christ, we can be intimately connected to the “new humanity” of God’s redeemed people.
Dear loving Father, thank you for forgiving me and making me one with you. Thank you that being at peace with you means I can have peace with other Christians. Please help me to love my Christian community as my own family and to bring you glory by the way we display your love to each other. Would you please open my heart to see those who are different to me and to love them deeply because of the bond we have in Jesus. In his name I pray, Amen.
A song to listen to: The One Who Made Us One
Living Church City South