But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,
This is what Saint Paul said, 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. Just reflect on this. What a powerful insight and a wonderful, beautiful vision. This is how Paul saw what Jesus did. This is Paul’s interpretation of Jesus’ life. Jesus’ teaching. Jesus’ action. He summarizes what Jesus did on earth. Paul’s interpretation is very powerful and insightful. Paul saw the work of Jesus as the work of peace. Jesus came to give us peace. That is how Paul saw it. Paul never met Jesus in his life. He only heard about Jesus, heard about his teaching, heard about his ministry and his action, and yet he saw through what Jesus was thinking and what Jesus had in his heart, and he said this, Jesus came to bring peace, breaking down the dividing wall, putting an end to the hostility and bringing two groups into one and give peace to the world. That’s exactly what Jesus also said. Jesus said this, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” Last week we talked about forgiveness and in that context he also said, I will give you peace and this peace will be different from the peace that you can see in the world. It will be a very different peace that I came to give you.
That’s what Jesus said, and Paul saw that so clearly and critically. How did he do that? That is just wonderful to me. Whenever I read Paul’s epistles, it amazes me. It amazes me how Paul was able to figure out what Jesus wanted to do so clearly. That’s why Paul said this, “there is no longer Jew or Greek. There is no longer slave or free. There is no longer male and female for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” In one sentence, Paul summarized what humanity is all about, what Jesus teaching is all about, and what life is all about. In one sentence, he was able to do that. How genius. No more division, but peace and oneness. That’s what we aspire towards, what we are supposed to achieve. Race, religion, social status and gender. These used to be the walls, the calls for division, but Paul saw that these walls being broken down, crumbled down to the ground, and now there is no division but peace and unity. That was what Jesus did on earth. That was 2000 years ago. Not 200 years ago, 2000 years ago. He saw this vision, a wonderful vision in Jesus. Regionalism or parochialism was taken for granted at that time, so it was a status was what determined one person’s identity, male domination was taken as a natural order of society, and yet Paul saw that the world Jesus envisioned at the time was different. That’s why Paul was shocked hearing about Jesus.
These things were prevalent at the time, but Paul saw the world Jesus envisioned was very different from the world he witnessed during his time. Peace and oneness. That was what Jesus wanted to establish, young and old, male and female, rich and poor, white and black, all become one. It just amazes me about how Paul can see through Jesus’ inner thought in our heart. How he could capture the world that Jesus dreamed about. Nobody truly understood what Jesus meant. Even the disciples did not understand what Jesus meant to the world, but Paul saw that. And what is more amazing about this is his message is so relevant to us today in 2016.
His message is so relevant. Every day we are witnessing how fragmented this world is. We are living in a divided world, but my friends, division comes from within us, not anywhere else. Because we are divided inside, we create more division. Division comes from within us. We don’t have peace and harmony within us. We are divided in our heart, you don’t look inside. That’s why in this world, there is much division.
For those who are not divided, for those who have peace within them, race is not the reason for division. For those who have peace within them, gender is not the reason for division. For that peace and harmony within them, our differences are not the reason for division. But the world has no peace and all these things divide us and we use them and we make excuses that these are the reasons for our division. Humanity is divided. My friends, I do believe that division is going to be a serious problem for the future of humanity and this division is as serious as the environment that we’re living in. There’s environmental corruption right now but this division is going to be a threat and it will bring a crisis to the future of humanity. We have to seriously change our attitude towards division. We have to turn it around. And think how can we live together in harmony and unity rather than in dividedness. This very serious issue that we have to tackle starting right now.
The WCC, the World Council of Churches is a worldwide church organization, which include Protestant churches, Eastern Orthodox, and many others, held a meeting in Busan, South Korea in 2013. And that day, they decided this particular Sunday, the Sunday prior to August 15th as the Sunday of prayer for the peaceful unification of the Korean Peninsula. That is the only country that is divided. So they have decided this. It’s not just us who are praying for the Korean peninsula, but the whole world right now is praying for the Korean Peninsula that is a divided north and south. That country has been divided for more than half a century. But I do believe that is not just Korea that is divided. People are divided everywhere. Even in the same country. Martin Luther King Junior said at 11:00 AM on Sunday, we stand at the most segregated hour in this nation.
I’m reading a book called Disunity in Christ. It is written by Christina Cleveland, an associate professor of reconciliation studies at Bethel University in St Paul, Minnesota. She talks about how divided Chicago is. In fact, Chicago has recently been named the most segregated city in America. She said, “by simply knowing a person’s race, you can predict where they live and even what teams they will root for.” In Chicago, many black people live on the south side and many white people live on the north side and blacks tend to be White Sox fans and whites tend to be Cubs fans. So it’s all divided. One of our congregation members, she is not Korean. She said once, she wanted her children to be exposed to more than just a white congregation. That’s why she decided to come to this church so that her children may be exposed to different races. She has been here for some years. She is a Catholic and this church is Presbyterian. Catholic, Presbyterian, Pentecostal. Does it matter? Tomato, tomoto, potato, patato. Does it matter? Shall We dance?
Her cousin came from Maryland and last week she told me as she was sitting right here. She insists that she had to come to this church today. So they are here. She told me that she used to attend a Catholic church right downtown in Maryland. It is a predominantly black church. She told me it had a beautiful congregation. Their service is just like our service and she enjoys the service so much. But unfortunately, that church closed down because they didn’t have a priest. And then she said, when I go back to Maryland, this time, I’m going to look for a church like this. We should celebrate diversity. We just celebrate our differences. Division is what destroys humanity. God created Adam and Eve and said, two shall become one. It is not just a romantic passage about people who are getting married. Yesterday, I did a wedding and according to this passage, but it’s not just for the romantic message for a married couple. This is for humanity. Two shall become one. Adam and Eve were different, male and female.
When Adam and Eve were created, the difference was created. The diversity was created, but God told them, you shall become one. Diversity should not be the reason for your division. You’re two different people. There is a diversity, but you shall become one. Without diversity, there’s no unity. Only uniformity. Uniformity is not unity. God told the first human beings to become one. Celebrate each other’s gifts, respect each other’s differences, but work together to become one. Reach out to those who are different from you and learn to build bridges, not walls. Don’t build walls. Build bridges, and don’t listen to the politicians who try to build walls because they are not Christians.
That was Jesus’ vision and Paul saw it very well. Forgive each other, accept each other, appreciate each other, and respect each other. Learn to live harmoniously. That is humanity 101. Before you learn to make money, learn to live together with others in unity and harmony. Put down greed, put down selfishness, be generous and don’t have us and them mentality. We are all one in the bond of love. There is no us and them. We are all one in the bond of love. That’s what Jesus proclaimed and that’s what Paul saw and that’s what I proclaim and that’s what you should proclaim to the world. That is the Gospel. We are one in the bond of love and that will be our pronouncement. We are proclaiming that we are one and Jesus made us one. He broke down all the walls to make all of us One.
Reflection Song and Prayer
Now let us pray together. Let us pray for the Korean Peninsula. The country’s divided north and South, still threatening each other, but not only that country, but the Middle East and everywhere in the world. There’s tremendous division, divided heart, animosity, hatred, continues to revenge, let us pray for humanity. That we may learn to live together, to co-exist, to love each other, to become one. Let us pray. This time, let us pray for ourselves. A lot of division is caused by us because we are divided within us. So let us pray for the healing so that our divided heart, may be unified and we may find true harmony within us. Let us pray for ourselves so that wherever we go, instead of creating division, we bring reconciliation and unity and peace.
Maybe you can hold hands together with the person beside you and we’ll sing together. We are one in the bond of love. Let us sing together. Just first the first verse. We are one in the bond of love.