Peace: Day 25
Peace That Tears Down Walls
By Alex Gowler
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 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, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Ephesians 2:14-18 NIV
An icy-cold dinner table conversation.
A passive-aggressive text message.
The social media carpet bomb of a Facebook rant.
The subtle art of the workplace snub.
Whether it’s the everyday enmity we experience in our own lives or the tragedies we bear witness to whenever we check the news, we are far more familiar with hostility than God ever intended.
What went wrong?
We’re told in Genesis 3 that the peace of God — His shalom — was vandalized by humanity when we seized the fruit of the Tree of Knowing Good and Evil. In so doing, humanity abandoned God’s definition of good in favor of fabricating our own.
But what happens when my definition of good is different than yours? You become a threat. As long as your definition of good contradicts my own, I’m no longer safe. Now I have something to defend. Peace evaporates and a self-protective hostility ensues.
This was overwhelmingly evident for Paul’s readers in Ephesians 2:14-18. Jew and Gentile believers were at odds with one another. Whose way of following Jesus was “right”? Should the Jewish believers become like the Gentile believers? Or should the Gentile believers become like the Jewish ones?
As He often does, Jesus’ response through Paul wasn’t what anyone was expecting.
Paul saw that neither group was “right.” Neither group had the superiority or authority to demand that the other adopt their way. Instead, Jesus’ intention was “to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace.” How does this happen? By Jesus “himself [being] our peace.”
The peace Jesus offers is not a verdict on which “Christian party” is right. Neither is it an order for one group to become the other. It is Him, the one who has destroyed the barriers that separate us from one another by drawing both parties to Himself, preaching a message of peace both to those who are thought to be “far away” and to those who see themselves as the ones “who are near.” As we allow Him to make us into something entirely new, tuning our hearts to His, we will naturally become more in tune with one another, becoming like Him together.
This Christmas, where might the Holy Spirit want to tear down walls of hostility in your life? Where might He want to reconcile (“make good again”) relationships that have lived on opposite sides of the barricade for far too long? And how might you be able to partner with Him in that desire?
Holy Spirit, please help me to see the places where You want to bring peace where there has been hostility. Whether it’s a pattern in a relationship or a passing interaction that needs to be addressed with someone, help me know how I can partner with You in making things good again.
Give a shout out on someone’s social media page. Call attention to a positive character quality or thank them for being a good friend.
Write a batch of Christmas cards and bring them to a local nursing home to give to the residents.
Order a pizza and have it delivered to your neighbor for dinner one night.
Taking care of a new baby is a big challenge! Take a meal to a family you know with a new baby or pick up diapers to donate to a local shelter or food bank. (Luke 1:34-36)