Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
In recent weeks the idea of reconciliation has once again cropped up to the center of many Americans’ attention. The tensions have perhaps been more intense because of the pandemic which has prevented many meetings and appearances of Christian leaders, who have typically been a voice for reconciliation among different racial and cultural groups.
The Bible has a great deal to say about reconciliation. This week, in particular, the Epistle reading from Ephesians 2 points out that the most serious conflict in the world, the conflict between the perfectly holy God and sinful humans, has been resolved by Jesus, who broke down the separation between God and man. This is particularly important when we remember this letter was written to Christians at Ephesus. The Ephesians, in the Greek world, and the Jews, would have very little to do with one another. There was a lot of tension. Virtually nowhere in the Mediterranean world was Judaism accepted, primarily because the pagans had little patience with a people who were monotheistic and who believed in a transcendent God, rather than a group of gods who were more like long living and very powerful humans.
“Everyone” in Christianity recognized that the Jews would become Christians by God’s grace. However, there wa still some doubt about the legitimacy of a Greek becoming a Christian without first converting to Judaism. Paul says that Jesus has made the Ephesians also partakers of his divine nature, breaking down their separation from God through his own work. The Ephesians, just like the Jews from Jerusalem, were citizens in the kingdom of God. They too were built up on the foundation of Christ and were a holy dwelling for God.
It is in Christ and His reconciling work that we have hope for reconciliation with one another. It is in Jesus’ atoning sacrifice and his love for all humans that we can hope to see one another as bearers of God’s image and as those who are worthy of love and respect. This is the message of Christianity, that though we are sinners, God has esteemed us highly as those created in His image, and that he has reconciled us to himself, at his own expense. Our role is to acknowledge his work. That acknowledgement automatically brings us to see other humans, no matter their background, as His precious children. So we treat one another well, with respect, with dignity. Here we can find peace.
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