“And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near… So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” Ephesians 2:17 & 19
Oh the richness of Ephesians 2. You were wretched, no, dead, and God in love send Christ and saves you. Jared Wilson has awe-inspiring insight into the truth of verses 1-10 here. Paul keeps going after the announcement of so great a love and salvation.
Paul explains that there is no longer a wall of hostility separate God and man, and Jews and Gentiles, because of the blood of Christ. He, Jesus, is now our peace and has reconciled the religious and irreligious through the cross.
It was Jesus that “preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.” Peace, the resolution of separation from God, a way of forgiveness of sins, salvation. This is what Jesus preached calling all people to repentance and belief in him. To those far off and those near.
Certainly, in Paul’s writing the context is Jew and Gentile but is there something for us in it today? A recognition that we benefited from the preaching to the far off for sure. Oh that we would revel in his peace. But what of the way of his preaching.
Peace to the far off and the near. Peace to the irreligious, the ones no one would categorize as worth saving, the outsiders. And peace to the near, the religious, the law-abider, the good kids, well behaved regular attenders. Notice, it is not a different peace being preached to both audiences. It is the One peace, Jesus.
We might think outsiders and those that warm the seats of our churches need different messages. Some need to get saved, some need to become obedient. But if we prepare a different message, we miss the peace. We create a new law and way of living other than one founded, fulfilled and invigorated by that peace.
The gospel of grace. The peace of Jesus – Jesus himself, is what those far off and near need. This is the peace that saves and motivates obedience. That comforts and confronts. Jesus is modeling preaching for us in how Paul describes his work. Preaching this peace to the insider and outsiders sounds good to me, I need it. You probably do too.