Ephesians 2: 11-22 describes the re-uniting of Jew and Gentile as one of the results of the redemptive work of Christ. This reunion is in marked contrast to the situation under the Old Covenant, where God chose
We generally recognize that the work of Christ in dealing with sin enabled a reunion of God and man. The fact that this same work was intended to bring all mankind together and to end the enmity of “them” versus “us” is not so readily understood. Redemption ended the separation between man and his creator and it also ended the separation between the covenant people and those outside the covenant.
What this means is that the good news was intended to have a transforming effect on societies as well as on the individual heart. This understanding runs counter to generally accepted theology which contends that society and mankind at large is destined to continuously digress spiritually until the time that God is compelled to intervene physically and to end creation and society as men know it. Instead of the Gospel transforming society, orthodoxy claims that the message of Christ is that society is hopelessly doomed to utter destruction at his second coming.
Think of all the ways men divide up into groups of “them” versus “us”. Men separate and divide over religion, national identity, politics, sports affiliation, race, education, wealth, age, marital status, and many other distinctions. In almost every case of separation, conflict results. Winners and losers are declared.
What was God’s intention in completing the plan of redemption in terms of destroying these distinctive groupings and the resulting conflicts? The orthodox understanding of the gospel message implies that the distinctions continued and were even reinforced. The good people were supposedly called on to separate themselves from the bad folks, not unlike the physical separation between Jew and Gentile. The New Covenant people supposedly should expect to be disliked and opposed by the non-covenant people because this was prophesied by New Testament writers. If New Covenant people are called upon to oppose evil, which means identifying and opposing evil people, conflict is inevitable. The on-going conflict is said to be prophetic, which makes it not only inevitable but essential. According to conventional theology, nothing will be transformed by the work of Christ until he ultimately returns to judge and destroy. If God ever intended to reconcile man to man and to transform physical society in the process, that message does not come across in orthodoxy.
We conclude therefore that orthodoxy has missed the message. Reconciliation between God and man and the reuniting of men in one body logically should transform our society for good in every way. Nothing as we now know it or practice it should remain untouched by the realization that we are all one, one with God and one with each other as fellow human beings, created in God’s image. To deny an intended transformation in how we live and relate to our neighbors is to deny the gospel and its power. To preach a message of separatism and continuing conflict undermines the essential purpose of Christ’s completed work and reverts us back to Old Covenant state.
We should all recall Jesus’ story of the good Samaritan. The Samaritan was not one of the religiously chosen, according to Jewish law, but he was the one who knew who his neighbor was and the one who appreciated that he and the Jew were not separate and indifferent because of religious or political affiliations. Such distinctions were too artificial to overcome his sense of compassion. Trial and disaster always seem to dissolve the distinctions that separate us from one another. Such was the case in this story. Jesus took that opportunity to teach of the transforming power of a unifying love.