sexta-feira, 29 de maio de 2015

THE CROSS OR THE SWORD


His purpose was to create in himself
one new humanity out of the two,
thus making peace,
and in one body
to reconcile both of them
to God through the cross,
by which
he put to death their hostility.
He came and preached peace
to you who were far away
and peace to those who were near.

Ephesians 2:15-17 (read 2:14-19) - NIV

 

The book of Genesis narrates that God chose Abraham to be blessed and to become a blessing to all nations. His descendants, the Jews considered themselves to be the unique heirs of divine blessings and thought that the God Yahweh (or Jehovah) was only for them. Centuries later, the followers of Jesus usurped the Jews as being God’s chosen people, claiming themselves to be the true heirs of Abraham and in judging themselves to be the exclusive recipients of divine grace. A few centuries later other heirs of Abraham, the Muslims, appeared on the scene proclaiming Allah to be the only true God and that Mohammed was his last prophet.

Each of the three great monotheistic religions continues to affirm exclusivity before the Creator, and each calls God by different name to strengthen its privileged position.

The writer of the Letter to the Ephesians in the New Testament, who was a Jewish Christian, wrote about the barriers between Jews and non-Jews. He stated that in Jesus these barriers no longer exist. Now the Gentiles are no longer "foreigners" or "wayfarers" but, also, a part of God’s family. He also states that the Jewish laws, commandments and regulations that made the separation are canceled. The most important thing is to be in the presence of the “Father”.

With the passage of time, the followers of Jesus formed the Church and created new laws, commandments and regulations, raising new barriers of separation. Later  the Muslims followed the example of the Jews and Christians by creating another set of laws and regulations when they came into being.

Today, the separations are greater than ever before in human history. The fundamentalists of the three great monotheistic religions are fueling conflicts which are leading to unprecedented mutual destruction. Each religious group ignores the fundamentals of its own faith such as: justice, mercy and peace. Often Christians use Jesus as a pretext to promote prejudice, distrust and enmity. Today the "Christian" world has the highest technology of mass destruction in history. The tension and violence that it is generating is now threatening the very existence of all of humanity.

Today's urgent challenge is to recover the true meaning of the Spirit of Jesus which breaks down barriers. Jesus called his followers to take up the cross, not the sword. The cross brings us into the presence of God while the sword separates us from each other and distances us from God. When we separate ourselves from others we also separate ourselves from God. Living the cross is to live the righteousness of Yahweh, the grace of the Father and the mercy of Allah.

The cross of Jesus in our life must eliminate the beliefs which cause separation.

 

EPHESIANS 2:14-19 – NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV)

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 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.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.

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