Peter wrote, “once you were no people, but now you are God’s people” (1 Peter 2:10).
We were no people: whether English, Croatian, black, brown, what music we liked, which football team, political party… none of this made us a people but rather scattered individuals of a particular group, place or country. When things get difficult all the things which hold a country together fall apart and there is mayhem.
Jesus’ redemption is a reconciliation. He redeems us from dislocation from each other into being a people, one tribe, one nation, even into being one person in him. John chapter 17 relates Jesus’ repeated prayer “that they may be one”. He doesn’t pray for us to be cordial or even to have one shared goal, but that we will be one just as he and his Father are one.
This is a mysterious description of different people who become united in a deep and profound way. When we are born again we’re given a new heart, a new inside. The depths of our being are changed so that there is an instant oneness with other believers.
This is God’s intention for His Church:
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
It is a fact of life that humanity is lots of ‘us and them’ camps. Group identity can cause alienation. The church can be like this, and sometimes even worse than this. We must forgive both our enemies and our friends, for the redeemed have good and generous hearts.
Often our heart is in the right place but our minds need renewing so that the love down there (in our heart) is also up in here (in our mind) and comes out of here (our mouth).