Two weeks ago, on Saturday, January 9, there was an exchange of power. No, I’m not referring to the electoral college, I’m referencing the new moderator of the Tennessee Valley Presbytery. Now I do not want to sound overly dramatic, moderators wield very little authority in a Presbytery. There is no risk of an ecclesiastical coup taking place. Yet in the mundane, willful resignation of a church elder yielding his role to another, the image stood out in my mind. It was peaceful, unlike the violence that took place in the Capitol three days earlier. We are living in turbulent times. The division and hostility in our nation have been unlike anything I have seen in my lifetime. This polarization has felt disheartening and can make us wonder about the future of our nation or even the future of the church within our nation.
While our hope is in the coming kingdom of God, it is also essential that we hold fast to the grace and peace that flow from the person and work of our Lord Jesus. This is what Paul tells the Ephesians to remember, twice, in chapter two of his epistle. The greatest divide is not the political divisions of our government. The greatest divide in the universe is between the Holy Lord God and sinful mankind. Paul was writing to address a significant division in the Church, between Jew and Gentile. This division may not feel like a big deal today, but it was so significant that Paul had to publicly rebuke the Apostle Peter. Peter had succumbed to the divisive pressure of the day, compromising the unity of the Church. Sin divides. It breaks fellowship, relationships, and bodies. It enflames hostility between family, friend, and neighbor. But thanks be to God, for we are told in Ephesians 2.16 that God kills hostility. He destroys the divisions and does so through the person and work of the Lord Jesus, who was divided, torn apart on the cross. Peace is possible because the greatest of division has been reconciled through the death of the Holy One.
How is peace possible? Paul explains in vs. 14 that Jesus, Himself, is our peace. Peace is only found in the reconciliation that comes through faith in Christ. Jesus brings peace to Jew and Gentile alike because they have been drawn near to Him by His grace and love. The Christian is called to remember who they were, strangers and aliens to God, and who they are now, family, friends, adopted heirs, and children of God. For those who are outside of the covenant family, we have a calling to help them to know that their greatest need is not power, wealth, or control but peace with God. May we be people who exhibit and rest in the peace that comes in Christ alone.
~ Pastor Bennett