Dr. Jim Mann
“For he is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility … He did this so that he might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross by which he put the hostility to death.” (Ephesians 2:14, 16)
Ours is a world of conflict. Wars and genocide. There is religious conflict. Family conflict.
Bring it home and look at Portland or Minneapolis. Conflict among races. Conflict among genders. The hyper-partisanship of our government has perhaps never been more evident than now. Conflict between big cities and those of us in fly-over country—conflict! Everywhere!
I saw a bumper sticker that may best sum up our society: “Live, Laugh, Love. If that don’t work, Load, Aim, Shoot.”
Jesus had a little different take on the matter. Jesus told his disciples, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
The question, then, is how do we come to bear the family resemblance of our Heavenly Father and become peacemakers—in a world that loves its conflict?
In the passage above, the Apostle Paul uses the word “hostility” twice. The English word “hostile” describes an enemy and comes from the Latin word for “stranger” or “foreigner.”
In the above passage, Paul is describing two things Jesus did for humanity on the cross. First, the wall of hostility that separated us from God was removed (v. 14) As Paul describes in Romans 5, we were God’s enemies, but now are friends. But there’s something else Jesus did on the cross. When we reconciled with God, the hostility we have for each other was nailed to the cross as well (v. 16). As Christians, we were reconciled to God, in one body, together!
I love the quote I read recently, “When rams are following their shepherd and looking to him, their woolies rub each other companionably; but when they look at one another they see only each other’s horns.” (Z. A. Salik)
The problem in our nation right now is that we only see each other’s horns. We see strangers, foreigners, differences. And it brings out our hostility.
Trying to attain a horizontal reconciliation (people to people) isn’t fully possible until we attain a vertical reconciliation (us and God).
Of course, humans will try. We’ll make heroic efforts. We’ll try to legislate peace and keep the peace. But we will fail because the hostility is still there. Only when we submit ourselves to our Creator will we find that our hostility toward one another has been put to death on the cross.
Jim Mann, Ph.D. pastors New Life Church at Robson Ranch. This interdenominational church meets at the Robson Clubhouse on Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. and online. Visit www.newlifedenton.org for more information or www.drjimmann.com.