For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace —Ephesians 2:14-15
Racial disunity has affected human civilizations from time immemorial. Even today, it is still a politically hot issue. The divide between the whites and blacks in the West, the Sinhalese and Tamils in Sri Lanka, the north and south in India has continued even in our time.
Back then at the time of writing of the book of Ephesians, the society was even more conservative. There was a great divide and hostility between the Jews and the Gentiles. The Jews prided in their own peculiar Jewish system and even branded the Gentiles as ‘uncircumcision’ as a way of mockery. The Gentiles saw the Jews as bigots and inhospitable. How is peace to be had? How are these two groups to be brought together as one?
The Scripture tells us that Jesus Christ himself is the peace, who has made the two groups one. In Christ, the dividing wall of hostility is destroyed. How was this accomplished? The Scripture says Jesus sets aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. This refers to the Mosaic law including the many institutions and appointments concerning the outward worship of God; such as those of circumcision, sacrifices, clean and unclean meats, washings, and holy days unique to the Jewish system.
These Jewish ordinances were the major cause of alienation between the two. Christ by his death became a mediator of a new and better covenant and has made all of these ordinances, a vital part of the old covenant obsolete (Hebrews 8:13).
The purpose of Christ in bringing together the two groups is to create in himself one new humanity. In Christ Jesus, both Jews and Gentiles have become members of the same body and partakers of the same promise through the gospel. They are indwelt by the same Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13) and given the same blessed inheritance (1 Peter 1:4).
A Jewish believer is no longer required to be circumcised. He does not have to bring animal sacrifices to the temple. Even distinct Jewish food habits, washing rituals and festivals are no longer required to be followed. Now, he can worship together alongside a Gentile brother in one accord peacefully.
There is liberty in Christ and so the Scripture says ‘For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery’ (Galatians 5:1). Believers are not debtors to the Mosaic law. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. Just as a woman is released from the law of marriage when her husband dies, believers have been released from the bondage of the law as they have died in Christ (Romans 7:2-4).
This is not to say believers are not under any law. But they are under the law of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:21). We do not obey the law to get saved but the evidence of our salvation is our obedience to Christ’s commands. Obedience is the fruit of true saving faith!
Dear ones, let us stand firm in the freedom we have in Christ and not trouble people’s conscience on things like food, clothing or musical instruments to be played in our gatherings. We must also remember and embrace that the Church of Jesus Christ knows of no discrimination on social, economic, culture or ethnicity ground. In fact, we all have the same Heavenly father and have become brethren to one another. The invisible church is a multicultural entity. We are a very peculiar people. We can board a plane, fly halfway around the world and find a community of faith where our hearts are knit together as one.
Let us then strive to maintain unity and peace. We are called to be peacemakers in the world just as our Lord who himself is the Prince of Peace!