Sunday, August 25, 2013

Dividing Walls

Wall, photo by echiner1 from Flickr

“For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.” –Ephesians 2:14

Walls separate and divide. Some walls wall out the unwanted. Some walls wall in and protect. We all have walls in our lives, both literal and metaphorical walls. We are separated from God and one another in our sinful walls. As the poet Robert Frost stated in his poem Mending Wall, “Something there is that doesn't love a wall.”

In Ephesians 2:14, Paul spoke about the dividing and separating walls of the temple system, which divided people into categories: Jews, Gentiles, men, women, and priests. The temple walls separated and divided people from one another and people from the Holy of Holies and God’s very presence. Walls divide and separate. They categorize people into those who are in and those who are out. Walls even separate us from God Himself.

In the poem Mending Wall, Frost goes on to profoundly assert, “Before I built a wall I'd ask to know what I was walling in or walling out, and to whom I was like to give offence. Something there is that doesn't love a wall, that wants it down.” What makes us build walls in our lives? What are we walling in? What are we walling out? Are there walls in our lives that we want to come down?

Walls isolate us from one another. Walls isolate us from God. We wall in our pet sins, our hurts and our loneliness. We wall out community and people who want to love us and help us. We wall God out with our sins, self-sufficiency and pride. We wall out God’s grace and forgiveness in our shame and guilt. We have all kinds of walls in our lives that separate and divide us.

God has brought down the biggest wall of all, the wall of separation between Himself and us due to our sin. God understands that our sin separates us from Him and walls us out. God understands that these walls of sin separate and divide us from others. God desired to bring down that wall, and He did. 

The good news that Jesus has brought down the dividing wall of separation between God and us flies in the face of the assumption that “Good fences make good neighbors.” In the gospel economy of freedom in Christ, “No fences make good neighbors.” God himself is our peace and has made both one. He has, indeed, broken down the middle wall of separation (Ephesians 2:14).

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