The Golden Door to the Bible, Part 2:
Christ Is Our Peace
July 19, 2009
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called "the uncircumcision" by those who are called "the circumcision" --a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands-- remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 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. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! Our topic and our theme for today is “Christ Is Our Peace.” Please say that out loud with me: Christ is our peace.
Over these summer Sundays, we’re doing a Bible study together in the book of Ephesians. Now, if you recall from last week, we had a special name for the book of Ephesians, and that is ‘the golden door to the Bible.’ If you’re just starting to read the Bible, start in the book of Ephesians. Ephesians tells us the promises of Christ; it tells us that Christ is the mountaintop of the Bible; and it is a great place to start.
Let’s take a look at it together. Last week, we looked at selections from the first chapter of Ephesians, and we’re reminded that we swim in an ocean of love. We are exuberantly surrounded by the love of God, and that ought to give us a very good and positive feeling. “In Him,” says the book of Acts, “we live and move and have our being.” That’s what Paul emphasizes in the first chapter of Ephesians.
Our reading this week is from the second chapter of Ephesians. (By the way, the selections that we read in church are simply excerpts from the Bible's books - there's a lot of good stuff between these readings. Perhaps it’s just the lectionary’s way of encouraging us to read the rest of the chapter - please do.)
We’re looking this morning at Ephesians, chapter 2, verses 11 through 22. I invite you to take to heart verse 14, the first few words: “For He is our peace” – "He" being Christ. I believe that’s the anchor of the whole text. That’s the main thing that St. Paul wants us to know. “For He is our peace.”
In order to introduce this idea, I’d like to invite you to close your eyes for a moment. Picture a little medallion, maybe the size of a nickel. It’s a beautiful gold medallion that you like to wear. In the middle of the gold medallion is a beautiful white enamel surface. On that surface, printed in a red enamel cloisonné style, are these words: Christ is my peace. See those words on there, won’t you? Say the words out loud: Christ is my peace. Then put a beautiful white ribbon through the eyelet of the medallion, and hang it around your neck. It looks beautiful, and it reminds you that Christ is your peace and your protector.
Now, this medallion has a remarkable property. It’s kind of a transformer medallion. During those times in your day when you need special protection, when something challenging is coming at you, it remarkably changes into a shield that you can slip your hand into and hold up and deflect negative comments, hostile words, fears, and anxiety with the beautiful words, “Christ is my peace.” And when the onslaught is over, it goes back and becomes your spiritual medallion.
Christ is our peace in the cosmic sense;
Christ is our peace in the mysterious things; and
Christ is our peace in the everyday things.
Let’s look at these ideas together.
In this reading, St. Paul is very concerned with the big picture, with the cosmic things of Christ. You see, St. Paul is desperately concerned with the conflict between the Jews and the Christians. For St. Paul, the Jews are saying, “We are it! We are the only ones who are favored by God. We are the only inheritors of the history of God.”
And St. Paul is saying that may have been true at one time, but in Christ, we’re part of the family, too. Because of the blood of Christ, we have become inheritors of all the promises of Abraham, and we are inheritors of the blessing of God. We too walk in the favor of God, thanks to Jesus Christ. And so we hold fast to Christ, because He is our peace. He has made peace; there is no more two houses standing against each other, Jews and Christians. There is one house of God because of Jesus Christ. We are part of the family, too. So if the Jewish proclamation was that they drew a circle to circle us out, St. Paul is saying that Christ drew a bigger circle to circle everyone in. we’re part of family; we’re part of the blessing, he says.
And not only is there good news for Christians, but there is good news for the Jews, too, because the Jews are entitled to Christ and to the blessing of His insight into God. Jesus Christ was God’s way of showing humankind how He really is. Jesus Christ is God’s way of showing humankind what He really intended in the first place. And so, he weaves these two opposing houses into one house, which is a dwelling place for God. That’s what Paul says in the last verse of this scripture: “in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.”
In the big picture, Christ is our peace. Christ is our magnetizer. Christ puts it all together, and you are part of it. You are part of the family. You are an inheritor of the blessing. Christ is our peace in the cosmic sense. Because of Him, we walk in the favor of God.
I also believe that this passage is telling us that Christ is our peace in the mysterious things, in the things we don’t quite understand.
I don’t know about you, but when I get to heaven, there are a few things I’d like to ask the Lord about. Why were some things the way they were? Why did some things work out the way they did? But then, perhaps in beholding Jesus all those things will no longer be as important as they are now.
In the mysterious things, He is our peace. Perhaps we don’t know why something happened; perhaps we can’t see any good that could come out of a particular situation; perhaps we can’t understand something that has happened. Friends, we don’t have to struggle with it. We can leave it in God’s hands and say, “Even though I don’t know, I know that Christ knows. Even though I can’t figure it out, I believe that in the big scheme of things, Christ has it figured out.” Christ is my peace, and in all of those things that I don’t understand, which remain complete mysteries to me, I hold up the shield of Christ. Christ is my peace, and He is enough.
Third, Christ is our peace in the everyday things, in the things that you and I go through day by day. What are they? Well, maybe someone says something that’s disturbing to you. Maybe someone makes a hostile remark. Maybe something at work has you very frustrated. Friend, in all those things I would invite you to think about your spiritual medallion. Think about it becoming a shield. Hold up your shield and let Christ be your peace. Let the power of the spirit of Christ deflect all those negative things. Let it bounce off that shield and let it keep you safe from spiritual and emotional harm. Let Him be your peace in those situations.
Let Christ be your peace when you face something that is very difficult to face or something perhaps that is very scary. I had a situation like that not long ago. I woke up one morning and saw a lot of floaters in my left eye. You know what I mean? Those hazy things that just sort of drift past your eye. It didn’t bother me at first, but then they sort of looked like tree branches, and then they started to dissolve. I got nervous.
So I called my eye doctor, who immediately recommended a retinal specialist. I made an appointment with a wonderful gentleman of a doctor who was so kind and so courteous. He looked into my eyes very carefully, for a very long time. And he said, “Well, I’ve got good news for you. Your right eye is absolutely wonderful. There’s nothing wrong with it. It looks just great.”
I said, “Thank you. I’m glad to hear it.”
He said, “But…your left eye has a bit of a problem.” I tell you, friends, I burst out in a cold sweat right then, because I don’t like to deal with medical things. I don’t know about you. He said, “A perfectly natural thing inside your eye has shifted a little bit, and it has caused a little bit of a tear in an interior surface. If you do not treat it right away, it could get worse and there could be big problems and a major surgery involved.” I was very nervous and upset, as you could well imagine at this time. He said, “What I recommend is that you have laser surgery, and that you have it right now.”
You can imagine how I felt, if you’ve ever been through anything like this, having to make a decision about surgery on my eye right at that moment. I was very nervous and very upset. He said, “I’ll leave you alone for a while.”
I thought that was a great idea. There’s Someone I have to get in touch with. I thought about it and I prayed about it. I invoked the name of the Lord and I invoked my personal saints, and I asked Jesus to help me. And I am here to witness to you that when I did that, something remarkable happened.
I felt His presence. I heard His reassuring words in my heart. I heard His words of confidence. I heard Him telling me that this procedure was for my good and not for my harm, that He would be there and would help me, and I should be completely calm about this.
And friends, if you have any idea how scared I am of medical procedures, you will know what a miracle that was. I felt calm. I felt His presence. I felt His nearness and His blessing, as sure as sure can be.
The doctor came back into the room and said, “Well, what do you think?” And I said, “I think we should go with it.” He did the procedure. He warned me that I might feel some pain during the procedure. But it turned out I didn’t feel any pain. It was like watching flashbulbs pop near your eye. And then he said, “Okay. All done.”
I said, “All done?”
He said, “All done.”
I said, “Do I need eye drops? Do I need special attention? Do I need to wear special glasses? Do I need special medication?”
He said, “Nope.” That was it. We were all done. And it was a blessing. I thanked him, and I thanked the Lord Jesus for being near me. And so, my dear friends, if you have to go through anything like that, I invite you to do the same thing.
Call out His name, and He will be there. Hold up your shield, and He will be your peace.
Christ is your peace - because He loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.
© 2009 Anthony J. Godlefski