Why we should celebrate our oldies
How can Jew and Gentile find unity?
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)
How wonderful is this? Not only are we guaranteed access to God, but now we have an invisible spiritual connection to all who share the same Spirit, from separation to a shalom of unity. What a mighty army we now are, what great things we can achieve together! What can stop us now?
But there’s more. God has even made provisions for reconciliation between those with prior form, who have already been members of God’s covenant people for centuries, and those with no history at all, who are grafted in from outside, strangers to the ways of God. Jews and Gentiles were now to live and work together, in mutual respect of each other, without prejudice. We read this in Ephesians 2, from verse 11 onwards:
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
So here Paul first offers assurances to the Gentiles, foreigners to the covenants of the promise. Let’s read the rest of the passage slowly and deliberately.
For he himself is our peace …
Jesus is the shalom, the one who is going to bring completeness. He is the one who is going to make the necessary provisions.
… who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations.
He has provided a better way (‘a better covenant’ Hebrews 8:6) by providing equal access to God for both Jew and Gentile, just one way to salvation.
His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two thus making peace …
Or ‘one new man’ to be less P.C., an expression of the shalom of oneness.
… and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Both Jew and Gentile equally meet Jesus at the cross and have access to God through the Holy Spirit.
So, to summarise, we have the shalom of salvation, whereby everyone has a chance of reconciliation with God, the shalom of unity, whereby all reconciled believers have a place and a function in His Kingdom and finally the shalom of oneness, with Jews and Gentiles fully reconciled and equal under God.
This is how it is meant to be. This is God’s intended shalom for us, completeness in relationships between man and God and between believers in Jesus. It could have been so good.
The fact that this has never fully happened is not a flaw in the plan, but a flaw in our execution of God’s perfect plan. Why would this be so? The story now begins to unravel …
This is an extract from the book, Shalom, available for £10 at https://www.sppublishing.com/shalom-239-p.asp