Australia is a multiethnic, multicultural society. Nonetheless, in many way we are united – and yet there are deep and emerging divisions in our society; along ethnic, religious, ideological, moral and sociological grounds. How has Jesus dealt with these “dividing walls of hostility” to bring about true and lasting peace? How should Christians understand what Jesus has done and the implications of His work?
The Apostle Paul reminds the Ephesian Christians (in Ephesians 2:11-3:13) that sin meant that an impenetrable dividing wall of hostility existed between all mankind and God, and between Jews and Gentiles. From the beginning God had a plan to unite all mankind, and reconcile all mankind to Himself, through Christ. How exactly this would be accomplished remained a mystery until it was revealed to mankind.
Formerly Gentiles were (2:12):
- separate from Christ,
- excluded from citizenship in Israel and
- foreigners to the covenants of the promise,
- without hope and
- without God in the world.
Paul then reminds us that God acted through Jesus.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Eph 2:13)
God has enabled even Gentiles to be saved and reconciled through the blood of Jesus Christ, and to become fellow citizens and members of God’s household in Christ. Paul describes this extraordinary situation as the mystery of Christ.
This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. (Eph 3:6)
Once we understand this mystery we must consider the implications for us as Christians in the way we live in terms of our unity and our evangelism. We will not need to break down the “dividing wall of hostility”, but we may need to cross the street to share the love of Christ.