When The Wall Came Down
Humans are a wall-building kind of creatures. We build walls to divide or separate us from something else. We build fences to divide our property from our neighbours. Countries have built walls to separate themselves from other nations; Think the Great Wall of China or the Berlin Wall. Here’s an exert out of a fascinating article on literal global walls:
“Globalisation was supposed to tear down barriers, but security fears and a widespread refusal to help migrants and refugees have fueled a new spate of wall-building across the world, with a third of the world’s countries constructing them along their borders.
When the Berlin Wall was torn down a quarter-century ago, there were 16 border fences around the world.
Today, there are 65 either completed or under construction, according to Quebec University expert Elisabeth Vallet.” (You can read the rest of the article here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3205724/How-65-countries-erected-security-walls-borders.html ) I had the privilege of travelling to Israel this past September and witnessed first hand the walls and fences that Israel has erected to divide their jurisdiction from Palestinian controlled lands.
This Christmas our theme is ‘Peace on Earth’. We have talked a lot about how Jesus was born as the Prince of Peace. This past Sunday we talked about the most important peace-making role that Jesus plays is that he has made peace for us with God (Romans 5:1). In Ephesians 2 (verses 11-22) Paul talks not only about that aspect of peace, but he also zooms in to see how the work of Christ has brought peace between Jews and Gentiles. Throughout the Old Testament we read of how God has revealed the right way sinful humans can approach a holy God. He did this by choosing one nation to be a conduit. This in essence created a division between those who had God’s law and commands (Jews) and those who didn’t (all other peoples and their religions=Gentiles). Now the Jews were to be a light to the world and invite people to come to God through converting to Judaism and approaching God through the law and commandments. However, if you are familiar with the Old Testament you will see how by and large the people of Israel failed to be that light and instead were content to keep the covenant relationship with God to themselves.
Ephesians is the letter Paul wrote to the churches in Ephesus, which would have primarily been made up of Gentile believers. He explains how they were once separated/alienated/strangers from God, and in essence from Jews who were his representatives(v.12). But now, by coming to God in faith through the death and resurrection of Christ, they too are sharers in the covenant. Speaking of Christ Paul says, “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”( vs.13-16). The Prince of Peace has broken down the walls of hostility between humans that were resurrected by sin at Babel (Genesis 11). The work of Christ on the cross has begun to reverse the curse! Where there was division between peoples there can now be unity as we are all on the same level playing ground before God. We all have equal access to God which removes any barriers we perceive we have with others. This is the good news that began at Christmas! The walls of hostility and division can come down between us because God loves you as much as he loves me! Are there people you hold at arm’s length in the office, family, or neighbourhood? Is there a way you can posture yourself to them and show them an offer of the peace of God? That may be the greatest Christmas gift somebody is waiting for.