For 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.
I had a brother four years younger than me and, as kids, there were many disagreements, fights and harsh words between us. Our parents would step in and separate us and we would be sent to our bedrooms in tears. We had to be separated to calm the sibling rivalry between us. We needed space to calm down and cool off. Does that sound familiar to any of you?
Today, we struggle to find meaning in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic a year after it began. We argue over who we blame for the results of the recent cold weather event. We question lots of things and there are invariably two sides to every story. There are many non-physical dividing walls between people at the moment. To name just two: do we have a vaccine or are we anti-vaccine? Are we for green energy or fossil fuels? Paul tells us that removing a “dividing wall of hostility” is possible through Christ. He has broken down all walls that divide and we are called to embrace this peace. We need to unplug from those things that quickly draw us into arguments and conflict. We need to step back and create space from the demands of daily living to pray and move beyond our dividing lines.
Prayer is part of the equation and yet, the work of prayer is more than simply praying for peace. We need to rest and renew ourselves in God as revealed in Jesus Christ—the One who shows us where we are divisive and conflictual, and yet has made healing possible. Our views and opinions are too often rooted in things that are not of God, yet our primary identity is to be in who Christ has made us, not those things of this world.
Do you remember the old Patsy Cline country-gospel version of “One Day at a Time”? To start this peace-building work, we need to slow down. We can get through any hostility if we take “one day at a time” and turn our hearts back to Jesus. And Jesus does not simply give peace; He is peace. He is the great reconciler. Because of who He is and what He did on the cross (Ephesians 2:13), Jews and Gentiles were reconciled. He is the author of peace and shows us the pathway to peace, both with God and with each other—one day at a time.