The Eleventh Day of Advent
Ephesians 2:12-22 The Message (MSG)
11-13 But don’t take any of this for granted. It was only yesterday that you outsiders to God’s ways had no idea of any of this, didn’t know the first thing about the way God works, hadn’t the faintest idea of Christ. You knew nothing of that rich history of God’s covenants and promises in Israel, hadn’t a clue about what God was doing in the world at large. Now because of Christ—dying that death, shedding that blood—you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything.
14-15 The Messiah has made things up between us so that we’re now together on this, both non-Jewish outsiders and Jewish insiders. He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance. He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped. Then he started over. Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody.
16-18 Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father.
19-22 That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul addresses hostility, division, and self-interest among the believers. Newly converted Gentiles and Jews were wasting precious time and energy quarreling with each other. (Sounds a little like my Facebook feed.) Paul’s reminder to them is one we desperately need today: Christ came to bring peace to those who will embrace Kingdom living. It doesn’t matter how we came to accept this; in fact, nothing matters unless we do. Jesus is God’s gift to us, and not any one of us can take credit for God’s plan of salvation. There are no “insiders” or “outsiders” in the body of Christ. Our Peace came in the form of a babe in a manger. Our Peace came through a crucifix and then an empty tomb. Our Peace comes when we unite and allow the Master Builder to place us, brick by brick, where He wants us to help build His Kingdom. Our world today, like Paul’s, is troubled, but we can find Peace. My prayer is that we will cease the divisiveness and join together, in Peace, to “see it take shape day after day– a holy temple build by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.”