Hostility is real and ever-present today, isn’t it? The idea of conflict between different people groups is hardly a twenty-first-century idea. After their return from the Babylonian exile, maybe no group of people was more conscious of their own culture than the Jewish people. After generations of being unfaithful to God and serving other gods, they separated themselves from other people especially as it related to their faith. By the first century, the Jews considered that there were two kinds of people – the Jews and the Gentiles (everyone else).
Consider this passage from Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus –
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2: 11-12).
That was then, but today Christ is “our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14). Christ destroyed the barrier between man and God and then between all men, both Jews and Gentiles. So today, followers of Christ are one.
We are united in Christ, at least, we should be.
This weekend I read one post and some material and then listened to a couple of pastors who, hopefully unintentionally, worked to actually construct walls for different people in their churches by continuing to point out differences. Is it really helpful for anyone to see people simply according to their physical appearance?
In nearly every one of his letters to the first-century churches, Paul addressed those who tried to create division, to stir up trouble inside the churches. I wonder what he would say today?