Ephesians 2:14-16 paints a beautiful illustration of one of the most profound realities that came about with Jesus’ sacrifice: with the fulfillment of the law through his death, Christ put to death the hostility between the Jews and Gentiles by becoming the bridge that spanned the gap between them. Through Christ, rather than through the Law, both Jew and Gentile could attain salvation as part of one unified Body of Christ.
In the two thousand years since Jesus died, one thing has become very evident: humankind has not lost their pre-Jesus penchant for putting up dividing walls, and Christianity is not immune to this practice. 44,000+ denominations, anyone? While it can be easy to love and accept and applaud the tearing down of the hostile wall between Jews and Gentiles – a cultural friction most of us have never experienced for ourselves – what about the denominational walls we perpetuate within the Body of Christ?
Once upon a time while listening to someone teach on this passage in Ephesians 2, I started going through and marking my printout of the chapter. I crossed out “Jew and Gentile” and wrote “Unitarian and Trinitarian” instead.
Talk about being set back on your heels in total conviction!
There’s a verse in Matthew 19 discussing the matter of divorce, where Jesus says “What God has joined, let no man separate.” (Matt. 19:6) Sometimes I think that within our own denominational biases, Christians mentally “force divorce” on Christ and his Bride, the Church, by considering one group more or less holy and even more or less saved than the other. We raise the barrier of hostility and try to redefine the boundaries of what the Body of Christ is based on who thinks like us, talks like us, acts like us, believes like us.
But we are all reconciled to Christ by the cross – Jew, Gentile, Unitarian and Trinitarian. There is only one Body of Christ and we don’t get to say who is part of it any more than the Jews got to decide whether the Gentiles were, or vice versa. This is God’s team, God’s family, and we are all privileged to be a part of it. Let’s not sully the family name by erecting walls and causing division, resurrecting hostility and destroying peace.
Jesus died to make the two groups into one. Even if our doctrine is different, we are still One Body. So to the best of our ability, let’s make sure we’re living that way—in reconciliation and peace, because none of us are foreigners or strangers anymore; we are all members of the household of God.