God guides us in a wide variety of ways. The Bible teaches us. The Holy Spirit leads us. The community of God’s people discerns with us. Moreover, Jesus Christ can be the cornerstone of our lives, that which orients and supports everything we do. A literal cornerstone is the first piece of a building that is put into place. Yes, the cornerstone helps bear some of the weight of the edifice. But, more importantly, it determines the precise location and orientation of the building.
Ephesians 2:19 reveals that Gentiles “have become fellow citizens with God’s people.” Once we 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” (2:12). But now, because of what God has done through Jesus Christ and his reconciling death, we who were once excluded from God’s people have become “fellow citizens.”
“Consequently” tells us that what we’re about to read depends logically on what has gone before. Specifically, we are going to discover some implications of the fact that Christ has reconciled Jews and Gentiles through his death on the cross, reconciling both groups to God and giving both groups access to the Father by the Spirit (2:14-18). The consequence of Christ’s reconciling work will reiterate the inclusion of the Gentiles among the people of God.
Rejoicing in the midst of trials, tragedies, and difficulties does not require the denial of the present pain. What you are seeing, and experiencing is real. Nevertheless, you should rejoice because your success is not rooted in your situation, or even in your ability to fix it—but it is firmly grounded in the track record of God. This is why Psalm 43 instructs us to place our hope in God as the remedy for a downcast soul. This is also why we are encouraged to rejoice in the Lord.
But what if the Gospel really does involve all the ordinary stuff? Every bit of the “very good” creation that God smiled down upon… If the world, and everything in it, has an important place at the beginning of the very important Christian story, then they must matter. If everything God made then was “very good,” then surely, even sin-tainted, a spark of goodness and the potential for redemption remains—just like it does for us.
Living intentionally in God’s presence isn’t just something we do during religious observances and in our private lives. Yes, we walk before God when we gather with others for worship, when we work for justice, when we spend times with our families and close friends. But, like the writer of Psalm 116, we have been saved by God so that we might live consciously in his presence and for his purposes every moment of every day.
I must confess that I can easily take for granted this privileged access to God. I find it so familiar to draw near to my Heavenly Father that I can forget to be amazed that he welcomes me into his presence. Perhaps you share my nonchalance sometimes. Yet, whether you do or not, I would invite you to reflect on the fact that, because of Christ’s death on the cross, your sin has been washed away. You are now free and welcome to approach the Father.
Jesus was, to be sure, a unique preacher of peace. He alone forged lasting and pervasive peace through his death on the cross. Yet, as followers of Jesus, we too have been called into the ministry of preaching peace, or, if you will, peacemaking (Matthew 5:9). In our words and deeds, in our desires and intentions, we are to be people who commend, embody, and foster the peace of Christ. We are to do this not only in church and family but in every place God sends us.
We might think of reconciliation between people as a secondary result of the reconciliation we experience individually with God. In a sense, this is true. But, in Ephesians 2:16, reconciliation is seen differently. Here, Christ’s purpose is “in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross.” In this surprising verse, Christ first reconciles Jews and Gentiles, forming them into one body. Then, he reconciles them to God as a unified body of people.
Though our situations might differ from that of the first Christians, we still find ourselves in conflicted relationships. Sometimes warring factions take up sides in the workplace. Sometimes this happens in families or churches. Often, this happens throughout a world shattered by racism, sexism, materialism, and a variety of other injustices. But God is not satisfied with our status quo. Christ died to bring an end to the hostilities that divide us and to form us into new communities that mirror the very unity of God.