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7th February 2016
So far we have been looking at the hostility between us and God, but now we’re looking at hostility between one group of people and another.
We don’t have to look hard for hostility. We see it in wars and cold wars. We see it even in our own families and neighbourhoods. There’s hostility everywhere we look – there’s even hostility in the church.
We see in Ephesians 2:11-12 that there is a problem of hostility. The apostle Paul writes that we were separated from God, alienated from His people, strangers to His promises.
But there wasn’t just a hostility between us and God – there was a dividing wall of hostility between the Jews and the Gentiles. This was a literal wall around the temple that was designed to keep Gentiles out from the place where God dwells.
There was a great hostility that existed between Jews and non-Jews. However, many Jews and non-Jews had become Christians and were in the church together. In Christ, peace had come to those who were near and those who were far away from God.
The solution to the problem of hostility was and is Jesus Christ. It is the death and resurrection of Jesus that breaks down the hostility between us and God, and between different people who oppose each other. It says in Ephesians 2:14-16 that Jesus Himself is our peace – He “has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility”, reconciling us all to God “killing the hostility”.
One of the results of all that Jesus has done is peace. He came to bring peace – not just the absence of conflict, but now those who were in hostility are in family together, one new people under God, forming a dwelling place for God to live by His Spirit.
If you’re not close enough to people in church to be getting wound up by someone, then you’re not close enough! We’re meant to be family together, people from all different backgrounds doing life together. No longer alienated from God, we are built together. It means we have to set aside our preferences – it’s the only way it works.
Normally what happens in Church when we disagree is we divide. There are other 40,000 Protestant movements in the world. When people get hurt by the church they often run away, either leaving church completely or finding another one.
We can be so quick to judge and so quick to put up barriers between ourselves and other people. But we are called to “bear with one another in love” (see Ephesians 4:2 and Colossians 3:13).
Posted by Paul Mann