We live in a very diverse world. There are many groups of people of various ethnicities, generations, value systems, ideologies and life styles. Some people say that our society is like a salad bar. Salad is a healthy and tasty food but not everyone likes it. Some people feel uncomfortable living in the same community with others who seemed be different from themselves. They often try to make others look, think, behave or live like themselves. Otherwise, they try to separate themselves from or even attack them. Thus, conflict and oppression occurs.
Ephesus was one of the most important cities in Asia Minor (now Turkey). When Paul introduced the message of Jesus, some people accepted Jesus as their Lord and founded a church. Then, conflicts among different groups of Christians surfaced. Jews said gentiles were not children of God because they were uncircumcised. I think Non-Jews may have criticized Jews for insisting on their own culture and tradition unfairly by emphasizing laws such as circumcision. All of them probably asked questions like “Who can be called Jesus followers in this diverse world?” “What does God want us to do to deal with these issues and conflicts?” “Do we have to use our power to make others listen to us?”
I think our society has similar problems as the Ephesus church had. Let us think about issues of today. How do we live as Christians in this diverse world? I think we meet people who are different from us in many ways almost every day. How do you deal with the differences? Do you try to change other people and use the power of majority if you think that you are in majority? Do you try to understand or tolerate other people’s perspectives? Are you willing to embrace opinions and practices of others, or even open to change yours to bring peace?
Paul who knew the struggles of the Christians in Ephesus wrote a letter, Ephesians, to them. His intention was to remind them of the teaching of Jesus which provided them with guidance and pastoral care. In Ephesians, Paul says that, because Jesus died on the cross, it might look like Jesus failed and was defeated by the power of majorly. But there was resurrection and it was a new beginning of God’s reconciliation as well as God’s action for transformation of humanity. There was no longer majority nor minority but God’s new creation and new beginning of unity and peace in Jesus.
Can we think about a new way of reconciliation among different groups like “the conservative” and “the liberal” for a new beginning? Can we follow Jesus who became our peace not by forcing us to change but by humble and loving hospitality to transform this world to be the Kingdom of God? Jesus gave up his life to reconcile us with God. Can we practice what Jesus did to heal our community which has lots of conflicts between races, genders, and classes? Can we make new beginnings of our church and family?
Love and Blessings,