Ephesians 2:13-14, 19-21 - But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility ... So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
Have you ever had the feeling of being on the outside, looking in? Maybe it happened your first day at college, or at your new job. Maybe it happened on your first day at school or when you moved into a new neighborhood. Maybe you've even had that feeling with your family or with your friends. It's tough to be on the outside, looking in. It's even tougher to knock down those walls of hostility, misunderstanding, and dissension—walls that not only separate us from one another but from God Himself.
What would it take for peace, real peace, to reign then? You know, the kind that doesn't need to be enforced, coerced, or cajoled. What would it take to reconcile friends, even enemies, when real hurt or injustice has been done? What would it take to overcome broken hearts, fearful hearts, when chaos seems to be reigning in our midst?
That kind of peace would have to be miraculous; that kind of peace would have to be one that is full of justice, calling for repentance, and even more so, full of mercy, full of love, and available to all. That kind of peace would have to be something only God Himself can accomplish, and that's the kind of peace and reconciliation that our text is offering today.
That's the kind of peace that comes to you and me today, dear friend. It says, "Your life matters to God, and God can bring peace to you and me as we put our faith in Him in all things!" The apostle Paul is writing this letter to new Christians in Ephesus who were struggling to reconcile the differences and divisions that existed between two cultures at odds for centuries: Jews and Gentiles. There were real walls of hostility, and not just among themselves. Their sin erected walls between them and God, too!
Paul writes of a peace that smashes down those walls and reconciles all things to God in Christ. In spite of their sinful ineptitude, God still cares for them and has broken down the walls that separate us from Him and from each other! Miraculous, extraordinary—that's God in action for them, for us, all in Jesus Christ! God's solution is for salvation to all through Jesus. It's a grace-alone invitation to be part of His family and a Spirit-filled life in Christ that can begin to forgive as one has been forgiven, to serve as one has been served!
No more strangers or foreigners, in Christ we can be members of the family of God.
Hear God's Word, then, to you today no matter your present circumstance. Your life matters to Him. With faith rooted in Jesus, we are part of His family, and that means your life and mine are valuable not just to each other, but to Him. And that changes everything.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, by Your Holy Spirit, move us to extend Your invitation of peace to others. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
From "In Christ, Welcome Home," a sermon excerpt from Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz, former Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
1. When you sense that you're outside a group of people, do you try to work your way in, or do you wait for others to come to you?
2. Do you feel any particular kinship or closeness with those at your church that's directly due to the faith you share?
3. How do you try to help others who may see themselves as outsiders feel more comfortable in a social situation?
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