Ephesians 2:11-16 (The Message)
11 But don't take any of this for granted. It was only yesterday that you outsiders to God's ways 12 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. 13 Now because of Christ-dying that death, shedding that blood-you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything. 14 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 He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance. 15 He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped.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. 16Christ brought us together through his death on the Cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility.
An article written by Ronald Paterson in 1993 sounds as if it is written for 2019:
The way of God is from closed to open. Recently I heard a woman talking about her fears for our nation. One of the things she said was that the loudest and most painful noise she hears in our beloved country is the sound of minds snapping shut all over America. Her point was that too many of us are becoming people whose minds are closed and whose opinions are set in a sort of fatal concrete which threatens to sink the fragile nature of our democracy. She pointed out that this beloved ship floats on the willingness of diverse people to work with one another despite their differences of opinion, to find ways to get along with one another. Do you remember Jesus seeking out strangers and the outcast? Do you remember the unconditional love which he showed and which he commanded of those who followed him? The way of God is the path which leads people to work together for the common good.
Eugene Peterson's translation of the Ephesians text suggests that Christ brought us together. Christ comes near to those who are far off. He preaches to them, heals them and offers an opportunity for transformation and wholeness. Paul says that those who are "strangers" and "aliens" are all members of the household of God because of Christ. The whole purpose of Christ's life and the life that we proclaim as followers of Christ is to "build up charity toward God and neighbor."
Might I suggest that our alienation from one another is a form of alienation from God. Paul says that as followers of Christ we have been given the gift of reconciliation and peace. As Ronald Paterson says in his article, "The way of God is the path which leads people to work together for the common good." Are you and I working for the common good? Think about it.
Ronald M. Peterson, Dayton, Ohio, August 8, 1993 as cited in Homiletics July-September 1994, 14.