22 Sept. Ephesians 2:11-22

22 Sept. One family in Jesus Christ

"You were not born Jewish. You are the people the Jews call "uncircumcised"... Remember that in the past you were without Christ. You were not citizens of Israel, and you had no part in the agreements with the promise that God made to his people. You had no hope, and you did not know God."

"But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away from God are brought near through the blood of Christ's death. Christ himself is our peace. He made both Jewish people and those who are not Jews one people."

"They were separated as if there were a wall between them, but Christ broke down that wall of hate by giving his own body. The Jewish law had many commands and rules, but Christ ended that law. His purpose was to make the two groups of people become one new people in him and in this way make peace."

"It was also Christ's purpose to end the hatred between the two groups, to make them into one body, and to bring them back to God. Christ did all this with his death on the cross."

"Christ came and preached peace to you who were far away from God, and to those who were near to God. Yes, it is through Christ we all have the right to come to the Father in one Spirit."

"Now you who are not Jewish are not foreigners or strangers any longer, but are citizens together with God's holy people. You belong to God's family. You are like a building that was built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. "

"Christ Jesus himself is the most important stone [the 'cornerstone'] in that building, and that whole building is joined together in Christ. He makes it grow and become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Christ you, too, are being built together with the Jews into a place where God lives through the Spirit."

          (Romans 2:11-22)

 

 

When we visited the Holy Land some years ago, we worshipped on the Sabbath with a group of Messianic Jews. They welcomed us as Gentile Christians into God's family. This sounded very strange to us at the time as we thought we should be the ones welcoming them into God's family of Christian people.

But they were absolutely correct, and Paul, in today's passage, explains why. Unlike those Jewish Christians, we were not born into God's chosen people (see God's promise to Abram in Genesis 12:1-3, 17:4 & 18:18). We only became part of God's chosen people because of our faith in God's son, Jesus Christ.

"You were not citizens of Israel, and you had no part in the agreements with the promise that God made to his people...
But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away from God are brought near through the blood of Christ's death." (Romans 2:12-13)

As 21st century Christians, we often forget that Jesus came to earth to renew God's chosen people (the Jews) and to unite them with new non-Jewish believers (Gentiles) into one family. Paul reminds us: "He made both Jewish people and those who are not Jews one people. They were separated as if there were a wall between them, but Christ broke down that wall of hate by giving his own body." (Romans 2:14)

We also forget that most believers in the early first century Christian church were Jewish. It's testimony to the success of Jews like Peter and Paul preaching to non-Jewish people that the church soon had more non-Jewish converts than Jewish believers.

And so God fulfilled his purpose: "His purpose was to make the two groups of people become one new people in him and in this way make peace."

Unfortunately, you only have to visit the Holy Land today to witness that man, in his sinfulness, has re-erected the walls that separate Jews and non-Jews. This is not God's will, and it is up to all of us - both Jews and non Jews - to work hard to do all we can to rid the region of the sectarian hatred and barriers which are currently consuming it.

The photo (by EAPPI / E A Jamie) shows the 'separation barrier' between Jews and non-Jews in the Cremisan Valley near Bethlehem.

You can read more about the efforts of the World Council of Churches to bring about peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land @ Eyewitness Blogs – EAPPI UK & Ireland – We share eyewitness stories from the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and advocate for justice, equality and an end to the military occupation of Palestine


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