"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:"
Ephesians 2 is best known for verse 8 and the rest of the chapter is often overlooked. The rest of the chapter deals with the reconciliation and peace that can be found in Christ. It specifically deals with the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles. Racial division was a big deal for the Jewish people, but Jesus ended that division by His work on the cross.
However, many Jews would not acknowledge it. The church at Ephesus was a mostly Gentile church and probably saw themselves as second class citizens in the family of God. God used the apostle Paul to express to them that this is not true; they need no longer feel like strangers of foreigners but fellow-citizens and members of the household of God.
We are living in a world of unrest and tension, much of which is caused by race and culture. If we consider things Biblically, we understand that we are all one race created in God’s image, but that does not change the unrest and tension that the society around us has created. God can bring about that change and desires to, but we must understand that the solution is specific. So many people today are talking about solutions like social justice, police reform or defunding, reparations, community efforts, and protests. Many of these solutions have been tried before (for issues of race and culture are not new), and although help can be gained from some of them, the problem continues.
It reminds me of when the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned from peace talks with Germany in September of 1938 with the message, “Peace in our time! Peace with honor!” Despite his efforts and this message, World War II began the very next year.
Understanding our history with this issue, we can feel like the Gentiles did as described in verse 12 of Ephesians 2 - “having no hope.” Thankfully Paul continues to write and says, “But now in Christ Jesus” things can and should be different.
The only solution that the Christian should be looking to is the solution of Christ.
That we can build lasting peace, unity, and reconciliation with Him as our cornerstone. When we look at the world around us, we see walls of culture and society keeping us apart, but just like the veil in the temple, God has gotten rid of them. Yet, far too often we keep building them back up; not willing to live out the reconciliation we can experience through Christ. When the apostle Paul heard that Peter withdrew himself from the Gentiles, he rebuked him. So must we stand against the issues of division today. Although God performed the work of reconciliation, He gave the ministering of it and responsibility to perform it to us (2 Corinthians 5:17-20)
This topic is a massive undertaking to write about, but my goal is simply to point us to hope. That hope cannot be found in our political system, our judicial rulings, our community reforms, but it can be found in Christ. Look to Him and His Word for help and healing during these troubling times. I urge you to read often the second half of Ephesians 2 and examine your life to make sure that you are treating all that are in the household of God as an equal member of the same family.
When one member of the family suffers, all should rally around them and help them in their times of need. Reconciliation that crosses culture lines must come from the understanding that the relationship within the family of God goes deeper than blood. There will be many people that I will spend eternity with as my family, whereas there are likely to be several people who bear my last name and have the same skin color as me who are family only in this life. It is sad to see even the household of God separated so often and for so long.
Family is only made close through relationships, and relationships are often only built with purposeful determination. When was the last time you determined to build a relationship with someone that did not look like you?
Relationships are not built through Facebook posts but in real life, and real life takes work. May we spread the hope of Ephesians 2 as well as live out the message each and every day.