During today’s challenging times, the church has an opportunity to become an example by demonstrating what the reconciliation of the cosmos will look like. It can model living in society without polarizing or dividing into schisms. Instead of hostility and hatred, we can live in perfect peace with one another thanks to Jesus’ accomplishments. Ephesians references a church in which diverse groups of people love one another, abolishing walls of separation and loving despite their differences. Today, such love is less common because our thinking about God and one another has been hijacked. We’ve developed false concepts about how things are. Judgment, condemnation, hatred, and intolerance come far too easily.
But what if the church became a place like that described in Ephesians 2:13–17—a faith community without dividing walls in which people draw close? The gospel is not about demonstrating that my beliefs are more correct than those of others. it’s about getting along with one another. It’s about each individual maximizing others, creating a place in which we seek to love others because we have been brought near by the blood 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” (Ephesians 2:14).
Due to God’s reconciling love, each person is an object of inestimable worth, deserving of grace, love, peace, and acceptance. If this is true, we should treat everyone as an object of God’s love. When a person realizes that they are completely loved, they no longer worry about themselves because they know everyone will look out for others’ interests and speak out for their rights. Knowing this, we can feel safe in God’s love because if a person is important to God, they are also important to us. Achieving this may be difficult, however, because we find it hard to trust others. Jesus paid an enormous price for love when His brothers turned on Him in hate and hostility, but His death pulled down the barriers that make us one another’s enemies—the dividing walls of mistrust, enmity, and hatred. These dividing walls need not exist, so why should we live in false separations based on intolerance and contempt?
Jesus is our peace. Whatever dividing walls we erect—racial, religious, relational, political, or cultural—Jesus wants us to live peacefully with one another. Let Jesus abolish the hostility, connecting us in love so we no longer view one another as inferior. Jesus eliminates our enmity. The only way to experience this, however, is to focus on the peace He brings rather than on today’s dividing debates and criticisms. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35, ESV). May our focus remain on Jesus, knowing that God has removed every obstacle and thrown open every compartment to bring us close. I long for—no, I hunger and thirst for—a taste of that intimate love experience. May we be reconciled—all of us—to God, knowing that we are brought close to become a mutual blessing. May we see the inestimable worth in demonstrating to the best of our ability what this kind of reconciliation looks like.
Craig Ashton Jr.