Here I am Lord,
Speak to me
within my heart and soul.I am listening.
St Paul to the Ephesians 2: 14
‘he is our peace, who made both one’
It has become clearer that, the simpler the words, the more challenging the message. Paul, the champion of the gentiles, is telling his people that they are no longer left out – they probably didn’t even know they were left out - living as they had been, obliviously outside the Judaic bubble of promise.
But when the invitation comes they grasp it with both hands and hang on for dear life despite the protests of their ‘older brother’, who consider themselves ‘there first!’
But in time, for many, two became one, as Paul loves to put it, in Christ. There is no difference – all of us can, if we wish, live happily in the knowledge that Christ’s peace is our promise too.
But Paul’s writings aren’t just Paul’s words –like the rest of the New Testament, God has had a guiding hand. That’s why these words are still so relevant today. Because Christ’s peace didn’t come along just once, or for just a few; Christ’s peace is eternally creative in the world and still making both one, except now, all too often, we are the older brother.
And this is where simple becomes difficult. That sense of judgement that we all have - of who deserves, who doesn’t; who is better, who is not?
I may believe that I have peace through Christ;
I may believe that I have peace with others who believe what I believe;
I may believe that I have peace with people that I love.
Do I believe I have peace with people who don’t believe?
Do I believe I have peace with those that I do not love?
I have to say not easily – in my heart I judge where that peace should be.
But Christ didn’t die for the either/or of my opinion but the both/and of his. When Christ died he took in all in – he died for Peter and for Pilate; he died for the lepers and the Pharisees; he died for the Romans and the Jews. He died for those who threw stones and for those who wept.
Both became one – the worthy and the unworthy, the believer and the doubter, the sinner and the sinless.
The both that became one – the human and the divine – brings all humanity to the Divine peace.
A scary thought – to be judged.
And I don’t know if it is better to be judged by those who we consider against us or our peers. Either way there is always that worry that we will not measure up to their standards. And that worry comes from knowing that often they do not measure up to ours.
Jesus does not condemn people – even when he criticises them and warns them that there would be some not making it into heaven – he doesn’t name names. As far as he is concerned forgiveness, healing, repentance was always there. Particularly for those who feel that it isn’t.
It is those who feel worthy and justified that he has the warnings for. After all, next to Jesus who is worthy? Can you be proportionately worthy?
Ten, fifteen, thirty percent better than someone else – how do you judge?
Really you can’t – you have to accept that perhaps that person on the bus, in the shop queue, on the end of the phone, lying in the street has just as much chance of getting into heaven as you do.
Because that’s how God wants it.
And the biggest sin – in fact it might be all sin is – is to think you know better than God.
So maybe try thinking about how you look at people, maybe just one person and instead of the difference and the division and the judgement calls, try to find what it is that makes you the same, ask God to open your heart and your eyes to the grace that makes you one; that can bring you both to the peace of Christ.
May the blessing of the Sacred Three
The Father who gave us the Word
The Son who is the Word
The Spirit who opens the Word within us
Be with us today and evermore.