Morris Brown African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church was packed. The lower level of the sanctuary had standing room only. The balcony was at capacity too. Those who didn’t get a spot inside gathered on the church lawn where volunteers passed out ice water to provide relief from the stifling summer heat.
The mixed race crowd wasn’t there to see a world-famous evangelist or a Grammy-winning gospel artist. They had come to mourn and to pray.
Tragedy had just befallen their sister church, Emmanuel AME Church. A young man professing racist ideologies had entered the historical church and taken the lives of nine members who had met to worship and pray.
Now, at Morris Brown AME Church, Christians had gathered to seek God. Black and white brothers and sisters in Christ shed tears together. They held one another’s hands and lifted them high in worship. They knelt together in unity before the cross of Christ, living out the truth of Ephesians 2:13-14:
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.1
In this letter, Paul was addressing the ethnic crisis of his time: the divide between Jewish Christians and Greek Christians. For hundreds of years, the Jews had lived out a deeply entrenched mentality of exclusion: if you were Jewish, you were in; if you weren’t, you were out. Even if a non-Jew took steps toward the one true God, he was kept on the fringe.
So, yes, Paul was saying something revolutionary here. He proclaimed that there is no more “us and them” in the body of Christ-followers, because we are one now. And we are one because Jesus died on the cross, taking on the punishment of our sins.
The Hebrew word for peace in Ephesians 2:14 is eirene, and it means “peace, quietness, rest” as well as “set at one again.” Eirene is a word of reconciliation and unification.
Because Jesus paid the price for our sins when He died on the cross, we are at peace with God and with one another — no matter our past, no matter our roots, and no matter the color of our skin. In Jesus, we are one. He truly is our peace.
Christ is our peace… our constant, unshakable peace.
Five Minutes in the Word
As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. — Galatians 3:27-28
We pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. — Romans 14:19 NASB
I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.— 1 Corinthians 1:10
Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. — Philippians 1:27 NASB
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. — Philippians 2:1-4 NIV
- Liz Kreutz, “Charleston Shooting: Mourners Gather for Prayer Service at Morris Brown AME Church,” ABC News, last modified June 18, 2015, http://abcnews.go.com/US/charleston-shooting-mourners-gather -prayer-service-morris-brown/story?id=31855986.
Excerpted with permission from 5 Minutes with Jesus: Peace for Today by Sheila Walsh, copyright Sheila Walsh.
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Today is the anniversary of 9/11, the terrible day in 2001 when terrorists hijacked four planes and committed suicide attacks against the United States. One of the aircraft crashed in Pennsylvania not reaching its intended target of Washington, D.C. Two of the aircraft hit the World Trade Center in NYC. Another slammed into the Pentagon. More than 3,000 people of all races, creeds, and nationalities were killed that day — men, women, children, parents, police officers, firefighters, neighbors, friends, loved ones. Today, may we remember that grieving the lost is a holy thing to do, and forgiveness of our enemies is what Christ commanded us to do. Come join the conversation on our blog. We want to hear from you. ~ Devotionals Daily