Ephesians 2:17 – 18 “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.”
Have you ever watched a golf tournament? There is often a quiet hush, followed by a heavy sigh of disappointment from the crowd, each time a player comes close to the hole. Close, but not actually in the hole. When it comes right down to it, in the game of golf, close doesn’t count. In order to get credit, you have to get the ball in the hole.
I love these verses. I love that here, Paul levels the playing field. He acknowledges that the Jewish people were steeped in a tradition of godliness from the time they were born. They were close to God. He acknowledges that the Gentiles knew nothing of God and His ways. They were far away from God. And he tells his readers that God reached out equally to both groups.
Some of you reading this were brought up in church, attending Sunday School and Vacation Bible School, learning Bible stories, memorizing scripture, and showing up at church every time the doors were open. Others of you may have grown to adulthood thinking that Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny were the originators of Christmas and Easter! Some of you know all the spiritual lingo – you’ve been redeemed, sanctified, washed in the blood. Others of you haven’t a clue what those phrases mean, and are rather intimidated by them. Some of us seem near to Christianity, while others seem far.
Friends, when it comes to having a personal relationship with God, close doesn’t count. We can only have that relationship by acknowledging that Jesus Christ paid the price for us that we couldn’t pay for ourselves. He paid that price for those who were near, and He paid it for those who were far away. The price was the same for both groups – His life.
Because Jesus paid the price for our sins, we can have peace. We can have access to the Father. We can be adopted as children of the Almighty God, who breaks down every barrier, and doesn’t base His love on where we stand on some grand scale of spirituality. He loves us all. He reaches out to us all. And He offers His peace – to us all.
Dear Father, Thank You for loving each of us, regardless of our culture, our race, our background. Thank You for offering Your peace to all of us, equally.
Slightly off topic – all my life I have considered Judaism to be a completely seperate religion, as far away from my own Catholicism as it is possible to be.
And yet recently, I have come to realise that this is not the case. As Christians, we are not of a different religion, we are a continuation (somewhat amended) of the old religion. Doesn’t Paul say somewhere we are ‘grafted on’?
Let’s hope the ‘near’ and the ‘far away’ continue coming towards each other!
The universal sign of surrender is to raise both hands. One of my favorite songs goes something like this “Raise your hands – Sing to the Lord – Come on, get excited”. When and only when we totally surrender and let go and let God bring us close to Himself will we find that peace and rest that we are seeking. We can do only that one thing. Surrender.
You are so right precious Renae – coming close does not count and will continue to leave us seeking.
Praise God for one Lord and Saviour of us all!