13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14For 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.18for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God,
Today’s reading doesn’t specifically mention ‘forgiveness’ although it does describe in concrete terms, the mission of God, which is reconciliation. Earlier this week we considered the heart of forgiveness, which is not our personal emotional well-being, but, instead, the invitation of God to join in God’s being and God’s mission, which is reconciliation. Christ came to reconcile, to bring together a frightened, angry, alienated and violent humanity. And this tells us not only who God is, the Creator and Reconciler, but also who we are. We are those, who through Christ are brought close to God and so discover a way of joy, confidence and peace, for we have nothing to fear. There is no alienation for us, for we are reconciled to our Creator.
This is always important for us to remember. Our acts of forgiveness and reconciliation do not simply affect our own lives. They also bear the seeds of the Kingdom, of a God event, for others. In this day and age others may not see the need for Jesus, but they do experience the need for joy instead of stress, peace instead of anger, and fellowship instead of isolation and alienation. We can talk about Christ and his church being a community of joy, peace and fellowship, but words are cheap. When people see joy, peace and fellowship, which are only ultimately available when we confess, forgive and reconcile, we will have been true witnesses to the reality of God and the need that all people have for Christ. People will only come to understand the vital importance of discipleship to Christ and obedience to God when they see the fruits of it in our lives, first and foremost, in our healthy relationships which are built on forgiveness and reconciliation.
And this brings me to one final point. It is the point that Paul is making in today’s reading. If we wish to convince others that Christ brings peace to our lives, we then must live in peace with one another. Specifically in Ephesians, as in much of what Paul wrote, is the subtext of the divisions between Jew and Gentile which was not simply theological, but cultural and social. Paul was encouraging and instructing both Jews and Gentiles to make space, not only in the church, but in their lives, in their hearts, for people who were truly ‘other.‘ Forgiveness in our personal lives and reconciliation as the work of the church, internally and externally, creating relationships with those who are not ‘one of us,‘ are the seeds of Peace. These are the ways that we teach the world how to exist without violence, aggression or vengeance.