Sin destroys relationship. This is the fundamental conviction of reconciliation. We briefly explored in the last post how sin ruptures our relationship with God. In this post we will see that sin also destroys our horizontal relationships. We were created for human community. In the creation narrative God declared all things to be good with the exception of two things: eating the forbidden fruit and being alone.
Sin effectively drove a wedge between Adam and Eve. In their sin they turned away from God and each other and into themselves. Concern for one another was replaced with devotion to self. Naked transparency was traded for lame attempts to hide from one another. Life outside the garden was hard. The curse brought with it a confusion of roles, a battle of the wills, hostility toward one another, and a fundamental disharmony in their relationship. This dysfunction rooted in sin and the curse carries across all human relationships. This dysfunction is underneath every relational problem on the planet. Apart from God’s intervention these horizontal relationships cannot know repair and restoration. Look at how this text addresses this issue.
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:13-18).
Reconciliation in this text is directed toward the horizontal relationship of Jew and Gentile. At the cross Christ is not only reconciling us to God, he is reconciling us to each other. The text describes the dynamics of strained horizontal relationships. Jew and Gentile are strangers, they are hostile to each other, and their is a barrier between them. The cross is a violent assault on the hostility between these two people groups. Through the cross God creates peace between these former enemies. These strangers become family. These enemies become family. The barriers that divided them are abolished and they live peaceably together.
The cross alone is the hope for restoring broken relationships. There is no barrier that can withstand the battering rams of grace. There is no hostility that cannot be destroyed by the work of the gospel. There is no distance that cannot be bridged by the work of Christ. This text shows us that reconciliation is at heart a peacemaking mission. Christ is the ultimate peacemaker. He endured the hostility of the Father’s wrath in order to accomplish both vertical and horizontal peace. The cross is the hope of the world for bringing peace to fractured and seemingly hopeless relationships.