Identity in Christ: Peace

In our divisive culture today, one’s identity either joins or separates us from others. The culture focuses on race, class, or gender. For Christians, our identity is grounded in Christ. Even as all humans are creations of God, Christians are born again (or born from above in Greek) by the Holy Spirit (John 3: 3). Because we are now children of God, we are new creations. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” Instead of focusing on race, class, or gender, we focus on becoming more Christ-like.

Being in Christ by faith and identifying with Him brings peace because of Jesus’ reconciling work. This reconciliation is between humans and God as well as with other humans. Ephesians 2:11-22 explains this.

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)—remember that at that time you 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. 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, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

(New International Version)

Paul states Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews) were once divided from one another—as they were segregated in Jerusalem’s Temple during the first century. (See the picture above and the “Court of Israel” and the “Court of the Gentiles.”) However, these divided groups are brought together by faith in Christ. This brings reconciliation regardless of racial background. Notice also the word “peace” is repeated four times in these verses. Jesus is “our peace;” He is “making peace;” and He “preached peace” (twice).

This peace and reconciliation between different groups brings consequences. Paul states Gentiles who were separate from Christ have been brought near by Christ. Even though these non-Jews were excluded from citizenship, by faith Gentiles are now fellow citizens among God’s people. Although they were foreigners to covenants of God from the Old Testament Jews, Gentiles are now members of God’s household. Finally, although Gentiles were without God in their lives, by faith in Christ they have become God’s dwelling by the Holy Spirit.

Using the segregated Temple as an illustration, Paul says Jews and Gentiles have the dividing wall torn down in Christ. Jesus had brought peace for us with God and one another. He truly is the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

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