Ephesians 2:14, “For He is our peace…”
The themes of my devotions this week and next are on the Fruit of the Spirit. We have seen joy and love this week. Now, we turn to peace. Jesus states in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the peacemakers, because they will be called sons of God.” (Matt. 5:9) Paul in Philippians instructs that prayer will provide the “peace of God, which surpasses every thought.” (Phil. 4:7) But what is the source of this peace and how do we obtain it?
We live in a day and age where citizens in the United States are more polarized along party lines that ever before, it seems. Even the way in which we have responded to the coronavirus (COVID-19) in this country seems to depend along which party line you tend to linger. While the pandemic has somewhat dampened the campaigning for president in recent months, rest assured that our country will witness a very divisive and polemical election season this year. Too much is at stake for it to be otherwise. Most citizens of the United States wish there to be peace. Peace from war, peace from political in-fighting, peace from disease, peace from economic strife. The problem is not the desire for peace. The problem is the source of peace.
Many secular minded individuals in today’s day and age believe that peace can be achieved through human means. Many seek peace through political change. Others seek peace through the distribution of wealth and the eradication of economic class structure. Others seek peace through racial reconciliation or racial class upheaval. Others seek personal peace through disengagement with the larger world, adhering to a radical hyper-individualism that devotes attention to self-gratification through consumerism and existential identity formation through social media and other means. However, all of these avenues to peace along with all the other human attempts are doomed to failure. Why? Because the source of all these peace attempts is HUMAN EFFORT!
The good news of the Gospel is that God has provided us with PEACE – a peace that will never end, and a peace that is available right now. Paul teaches us that the source of Peace is God himself, “For He is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing line.” (Eph. 2:14) Who are the two groups? Jew and Gentile. Through the blood of Christ, there is now therefore, no dividing line.
Paul highlights the ethnic / religious classifications of Jew and Gentile in Ephesians 2, but this applies to all human constructs to divide. It seems that it is human nature to classify one another. We have the innate tendency to desire to fit everyone we meet and know into some sort of box: rich/poor; black/white/brown; religious/non-religious; traditional values/alternative values; Republican/Democrat/Independent; industrious/lazy; employed/unemployed…and the list goes on almost indefinitely. Human attempts at peace tries to change conflict by upending classifications – to the benefit of one, but also to the inevitable detriment of the other. The Gospel tears down the DIVIDING WALL! In the gospel there is now no classifications! The first truth of the gospel is that we have ALL SINNED. The poor sin along with the rich. The African American has sinned along with the Caucasian. The Republican has sinned as much as the Democrat. We are UNITED in our depravity and slavery to sin and death. The second truth of the Gospel is that through the blood of Jesus and His resurrection, ALL can be saved and have peace with God. You see, before you can have peace with your fellow man, you must first have peace with God. Paul says it like this, “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have PEACE with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 5:1) And that is the peace that is won at the cross of Christ. That peace tears down walls. That peace tore down the dividing wall that stood between us and the throne room of grace (the temple’s veil was torn at the crucifixion of Christ). And, that same peace tears down the dividing walls that we have erected between ourselves. So that, one day ONE people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation will declare, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!” (Rev. 5:8) Live in the peace of God!