No matter who you are, the Gospel proclaims that you aren’t any better than anyone else and you aren’t any less than anyone else. We have all been brought near to God and one another through the blood of Jesus Christ!
I was recently drawn into a conflict where both offended parties wanted to share with me their perspective on the sin and hurt that the “other” person caused. As I listened, I finally took the opportunity to share what I believed to be sound biblical advice of humility and peace. As I shared and watched the disappointment on their faces, I was reminded once again how unwelcome and uncomfortable the message of Jesus really is.
The message of peace and reconciliation that you and I have been entrusted with as disciples of Jesus is not and will not be a popular message. Jesus’ message of peace is like His incarnation – it’s not what was expected; it’s not what the culture was rooting for; it’s not what the broken human heart is longing for.
Jesus’ message of peace and reconciliation is plainly and clearly presented by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2-3. In this section of Scripture, Paul states the only path to peace with God, peace with one another and peace among the nations.
As we conclude a 5-week focus on reconciliation from this section of Ephesians, I am reminded of these 3 truths:
1. Biblical racial equality and reconciliation start in one place – that we are all (Jew and Gentile, every nation, every race, every socio-economic group) equal in this specific way – we are all dead in our trespasses and sins (2:1).
Before Paul talks about any racial reconciliation, he begins here – we are all guilty before a holy God. We all followed the course of this world and the prince of the power of the air and lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and mind and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind (2:2-3).
Without this biblical reality, there is no humility, there is no grace, there is no healing by the power of the Holy Spirit, there is no way forward.
2. God’s grace starts in one place – the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The blood of Jesus is the only foundation for peace and reconciliation: “by the blood of Christ” (2:13), “by his flesh” (2:14), “through the cross” (2:16), “through Him” (2:18), “Christ Himself being the cornerstone” (2:20), “the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (3:6), “this was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord” (3:11).
We are all equally dead in trespasses and sins and we are all equally invited into the rich grace and love of Jesus Christ that brings salvation, healing and hope.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (2:4-6).
3. True reconciliation to one another can only be experienced in one place – the Body of Christ.
Ephesians 2:1-10 describes the vertical peace that we can have now by grace through faith. Ephesians 2:11-3:13 describes the horizontal peace that is achieved through Christ. The mystery that Paul was commissioned to proclaim (3:1-13) is Christ has reconciled both Jews and Gentiles in one unified body; Jesus himself is the source of our peace.
Our message and calling as the church is one and only one message – Jesus brings peace with God, peace with one another and peace to the nations. The unifying and empowering presence of the Spirit is the One who will move Jesus’ mission of peace and unity forward and we must listen to His voice. As God’s holy temple (2:20-22), we must radiate the presence of God and his message of peace through grace together as one.
As we bring this mini-series to a close, here are a few questions that I have been wrestling with:
How does God want to use us in our extended families, neighborhoods, workplaces, and local governments to proclaim the path to peace with God and peace with one another?
What does it look like for you and me to be intentional with those who are different from us?
How do we create space in our lives and communities to love the nations?
Would you prayerfully consider these questions along with me? I’d love to hear that we are moving forward together in this way.
The Gospel is the only thing that can remove racial hostility! In the church, we have an opportunity to radically trust each other and challenge each other in the Holy Spirit.
Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit would allow you and allow me to be instruments of the unity that only Jesus Christ can bring.
P.S. As you reflect on what you’ve heard these past few weeks on reconciliation from Ephesians, I’d love to hear what God is doing in your heart. I’d love to know how I can encourage you and pray for you.