“For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.” (Ephesians 2:14, NLT)
I’m grateful our God doesn’t waste anything — the good, the bad or the ugly. Through the mystery of His loving providence, He uses our backgrounds and life experiences to re-create us into His ambassadors of reconciliation.
In our racially divided world, Jesus can redeem our pain and transform us into vessels that heal our racial divide.
Take the Apostle Paul, for instance. How could a pharisaical Jewish nationalist like Paul once was, racist toward pagan Gentiles, write these words from Ephesians 2:14, our key verse, about Christ uniting Jews and Gentiles?
“For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.” (Ephesians 2:14)
He doesn’t stop there — Paul goes on to explain how Christ unites us to form His beautiful, multiethnic Church:
“He [Christ] did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death” (Ephesians 2:15-16, NLT).
Paul was only able to write these words because he met Jesus, who took him from being a racist and transformed him into a grace-ist! God redeemed Paul’s background, destroying the sin of racism and transforming him into a new creation. And God can do the same for you and me.
Around A.D. 1, in the multicultural world of the eastern Mediterranean, Paul, a future racial reconciler, was born. His father mentored him in the family trade of tentmaking. Because Paul grew up in a multicultural city, he interacted with and understood Greek (Gentile) culture. Paul’s multicultural upbringing became a strength in bridging the divide between Jews and Gentiles.
In Jerusalem, Paul learned the Torah from the great Pharisee teacher Gamaliel. It was also there that an angry Jewish mob stoned Stephen, and Paul “agreed with putting him to death” (Acts 8:1a, CSB). And while Paul was on his way to Damascus, “breathing threats and murder against” followers of Jesus (Acts 9:1, CSB), he met the risen Lord. (Acts 9:3-6)
It was then that God began to redeem Paul’s past. Paul’s eyes were opened, and he was filled with the Holy Spirit. He spent the remainder of his life passionately preaching a gospel that would forgive sins and also create a family with different skins. This is the unified, multiethnic family God promised Abraham. (Galatians 3:8; Galatians 3:28-29)
It took meeting the Lord Jesus to change Paul’s heart. Only Jesus could have turned Paul into someone who would love his neighbor in the most sacrificial ways. And Jesus has the power to soften our hearts today, bringing peace and breaking down walls of hostility.
As one body in Christ, may we be reconciled to God and with each other, and may any hostility be “put to death” (Ephesians 2:16, NLT).
Dear God, thank You for never wasting anything in our lives. Thank You for destroying our sin and redeeming our pain, turning it into something beautiful and useful for Your Kingdom. Help us to pursue healing and reconciliation, knowing that You desire unity in the body of Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
OUR FAVORITE THINGS
Why must everything be so black and white? Like many of us, Derwin Gray is weary of the racial divide in our society. He longs to see hurts healed and wrongs corrected and to see trust replace distrust.
The good news is that the Bible has a lot to say about how to heal our persistent racial divides. In his new book, How to Heal Our Racial Divide: What the Bible Says, and the First Christians Knew, About Racial Reconciliation, popular Bible teacher and pastor Dr. Derwin L. Gray walks us through Scripture, showing us the heart of God — how God from the beginning envisioned a reconciled, multiethnic family in loving community, reflecting His beauty and healing presence in the world. This message is central to the gospel itself. Together, we can become the change that God yearns to see in this world. Get your copy here today!
FOR DEEPER STUDY
Ephesians 2:17-18, “He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.” (NLT)
Galatians 3:27-29, “For those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.” (CSB)
What’s something God is redeeming in your life? How can you take one step today toward furthering the multi-ethnic Church that God desires? Let us know in the comments!
© 2022 by Dr. Derwin L. Gray. All rights reserved.