v 16. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.
As far as Jews were concerned, Gentiles were beyond the pale. Jews and Gentiles were races apart; they neither had nor wanted anything in common. Anti-Semitism is not a new phenomenon; it was rife even in the ancient Roman Empire. Paul encountered one particular purge when he visited Corinth and ‘met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome.’ (Acts 18:2) Reconciling Jews and Gentiles would have been considered a friendship too far.
Yet this is very thing that Jesus achieved by dying on the cross. It was so much more than reconciling individuals to God; it was bringing divided races together in such a way that our hostility toward each other was put to death.
In fact there are to be no limits in our striving to be peace-makers. Hostile individuals, divided families, warring cultures, embittered skin-colour battles – they are all included when Paul later writes to the Roman Christians, ‘ If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. ‘ (Romans 12:18).
Learning to be peace-makers needs to be in the DNA of each one of us in the places and contexts where God has placed us.