Daily Devotional for Monday, November 16, 2020 from Jonathan Moelker
Ephesians 2:11-14 11 So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth… 12 remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.
The main theme of Ephesians is the unity of the church of Christ. From all of the texts we have that make up the New Testament, it is clear that there was a serious divide in the early church. That divide was between the Jews and the Gentiles, those who were from Judea and had grown up in the Judean faith, worshiping the Lord, and those who were from any other part of the broad and diverse Roman Empire.
Paul’s message of unity reminds Christians again and again that no matter where they come from, they are one in Christ. In this letter, he is speaking to a Gentile population, but his words could be addressed to any division we have between us. The life and death of Christ is a unifying event, one that makes people of different backgrounds, different values, and different traditions one people.
The Roman Empire attempted to make everyone “one people”, the Roman people. They did this through warfare. When your nation was conquered, you became a Roman subject (though not a Roman citizen. That privilege was reserved for a few). They sought to create “one people” out of many nations, but they did not succeed. People resisted the empire’s rule. The Romans claimed to bring peace through military occupation. The Judeans continued to identify separately from the imperial system, they continued to worship their God.
The unity that comes with Christ is not one of warfare but one of peace. Christ unifies not through superior strength but through weakness. To Paul, this is central to understanding Christ’s life and death. It also defines how we should live our own lives. Instead of seeking strength and authority over others, we should become the servants of each other.
Jesus came as a servant and a teacher. He came in weakness, not as a man of power or prestige, not as a prince or king but as the son of a carpenter, a day-laborer. Jesus spent his life teaching in the countryside and was eventually killed by the greatest authority of his day, the Roman Empire. Jesus was the weak one, overtaken by the strong. And yet, through his death, Jesus did something the Roman Empire could not.
Jesus created peace between people. Jesus brought people together. By not seeking authority, Jesus became Lord of all. By not wielding a sword, Jesus carved out a new nation. Jesus teaches us that peace does not come through aggression. Unity does not come from warfare. These things are the gift of God, brought through our weaknesses instead of our strengths.
We so often reject weakness,
We seek to be the biggest and strongest,
And seek to prove it by climbing on top of others.
Give us the peace and contentment to embrace our weakness.
Give us the strength to put ourselves behind others.
When we want to cling to anything we have,
Remind us that our value does not hang on
Our possessions, our jobs, or our homes.
Our value comes through you.