In times of conflict, religion can function like a double-edged sword; fermenting conflict or reducing it. We are living in a world marred by increasing hostility. What can we do to “break down” these walls of hostility dividing people and nations?
Along with being reconciled to brothers and sisters in Christ, we must focus our time and energy on working for peace and justice throughout the world! We find a good example in the life and work of Jesus Christ. The gospels feature accounts in which Jesus is linked with non-Jews; this included wise men from the East (Matt. 2:1-2), the Syro-Phoenician woman (Matt. 15:21-28), the “good Samaritan” (Luke 10:29-37), the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42) and at least two Roman centurions (Matt. 8:5-13; Mark 15:39) and others. These passages demonstrate that Christ’s good news is not restricted to any exclusive category of people, but extends to all. The sacrifice of Christ on the cross achieved what was not possible for humans in their wayward state: reconciliation with God of Holy love. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, broke down a wall that separated humanity from God. Jesus Christ is our peace (Eph.2:14).
Humans are too trapped in the deadly effects of sin to return to God on their own – or to even notice the wall that is keeping God out. The cross of Jesus is a reminder for all people, at all times, to be convinced of God’s unconditional love for them.
Instead of celebrating the richness of our cultural diversity, we can easily allow differences in ethnicity, race, nationality, geography to conceive suspicion of the other. This sets us on the road to ignorance, breeding prejudice and hostility. However, with the love of God poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, we can be champions of promoting peace in this hurting world, in need of a Saviour. Let us be peacemakers!