In a world of endless hostility between ethnic groups and nations, anti-Semitism, in particular, appears to be as strong as ever. However, Paul writes in today’s scripture that we live at a time when, in Christ, it is possible for all such division and enmity to cease. Actually, God Himself initiated a divine division between Jews and Gentiles. He separated and commanded the Hebrew people to be in a law-centred covenant with Him, giving promises to the nation of Israel that it would become an instrument of His spiritual light to all nations (Isaiah 49:6).
Unfortunately humanity’s carnal response has frequently resulted in a resentful and arrogant hatred against Jews by Gentiles, and a hardened heart of rejection in Jewish people. In the Body of Christ, such attitudes and divisions began early, as much of the growing Gentile Church chose to disconnect from its Jewish roots, and to see itself as replacing the people and the nation of Israel in benefitting from all of God’s covenant promises. It’s arguable that this early dissociation in the Body of Christ contributed to the sad reality today of some 45,000 divided denominations of Christianity.
Now, through the unique means of salvation that Jesus provided at the cross, it has become possible for the whole of humankind, if it so chooses, to be in a new heart-centred covenant with God, entering into an amazing spiritual inheritance, which He founded through Abraham (Galatians 3:29). Paul pictures this inheritance as a being like a cultivated and well-established olive tree, which provides a strong spiritual root stock for all who choose, as if they were olive-tree cuttings, to be grafted into a life-changing relationship with God. Through Christ Jesus, this root stock of spiritual heritage is available for both Jews (the cultivated tree cuttings) and Gentiles (the wild tree cuttings) (Romans 11:17-24).
Side by side, growing out of the same Abrahamic root, we can indeed become the one new man, able to retain and celebrate all the godly, ethnic diversity of our individual, cultural identity, while, at the same time, finding fulfilment in the common, spiritual inheritance God has planned for His creation. With one divine King ruling all of our lives, there need no longer be any heart division, or enmity, between Jews and Gentiles. Of course, neither group is without sin, and, at the right times, we can, and should, graciously confront the wrongful beliefs and behaviours in one another. But this can be without the prejudice which has defiled so many generations. For this one new man to be possible, both Jewish and Gentile believers need to walk in humility, forgiveness and healing. The world won’t understand or accept such radical reconciliation, but God has called every follower of Jesus to participate in a divine miracle, becoming, through Him, a new united family of covenant people. What an adventure, and what a challenge!
Prayer: Father, this end-time calling of the one new man requires active response rather than just passive observation. Please give me opportunity to be a part of bringing this miracle into being, as both Gentile and Jewish believers discover a potentially world-changing call to unity, but not to uniformity. Amen.
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