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 to 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.
Today’s text is dense. If you find yourself confused, I promise you are not alone. We will be unpacking this text in great detail in our message this weekend. There is a great deal here that addresses the unique challenges and needs of the Christian community that is still in its formative stage in the first century.
To broaden the meaning to our context today, you might think about conflict.
In Matthew 18:20, Jesus says, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” That’s an encouraging thought if for no other reason than we know from our experience that wherever two or three are gathered, there is the potential for conflict
It’s good news to know that Jesus is there!
In Philippians 2:5, Paul says, “In your relationship with others, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” That’s an instruction we all need to continually bear in mind. Accepting that all of humanity is flawed is a cornerstone conviction of the Christian faith. It highlights our ongoing need for the grace we highlighted yesterday. We need God’s grace, but we also are constantly in need of grace from one another.
One of the most common temptations we all face is to excuse in ourselves what we want to condemn in the behavior of others. You do it. I do it. We all do it. It is one of our flaws. Grace at work in our life constantly exposes this flaw and challenges us to share with one another the same grace we ourselves have received in Christ.
To prepare for this weekend’s message, go back and read verses 14-18. Take a few moments to ponder what Paul is saying here about the part that Christ plays in the “hostility” that is a consistent threat in our relationships with one another.
Loving God, we pray that grace received in our life will quickly become grace shared in our relationships with one another. We see our need. We recognize our own flaws. We look to you to bring restoration, healing and peace in our lives and in each relationship we share with one another. We pray that you would be our peace this day and everyday. AMEN.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.