Ephesians 2: 13-18
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
We live at a time when it seems that people have never been so divided. Unprecedented polarisation exists between nations, communities and individuals. We are building physical and relational walls to keep us apart from those different to us. Even within the wider church, as I read what's being written on social media, I have rarely experienced so many spiritual walls of criticism and accusation being erected between those of different political persuasions and ideologies.
In the first century, when Paul was writing, the greatest division existed between Jews and non-Jews. Jews viewed themselves as God's special people and in one sense they were right. They were chosen, blessed and granted a special relationship status with God. However, this was never founded on their racial superiority or unique achievements. It was based solely on God's grace and favour, and with a singular purpose to represent Him to the nations that they too would be drawn into relationship with Yahweh. However, over time, they became exclusive, proud and considered all who were different to be ethically and ethnically inferior and outside of the reach of God's mercy.
The temple in Jerusalem was a physical example of their prejudice with walls and barriers excluding various categories and groups of people. These physical divisions also represented spiritual divisions among peoples. Jews alone were God's chosen and could draw close to God. Everyone else was excluded from access to God's presence.
God however will never be confined behind walls, He can't be contained within religious structures, He transcends every limitation and boundary we place on Him. Through the cross of Jesus, God dismantled the wall of separation, He reconciled the races and He welcomes everyone, regardless of background or nationality. His grace is totally indiscriminate and radically inclusive.
Which leads to the considerations:
Are there people groups or individuals that we consider undeserving or beyond the reach of God's forgiveness and mercy?
Have we built invisible walls between ourselves and those different to us in terms of politics, social class, education or skin colour?
As we interact with those who aren't yet Christians, do we ever express a sense of religious superiority or subtle arrogance?
Have we allowed walls to come between us and others in our work, college or community?
Jesus replaces every wall of division with the cross of reconciliation and peace. As His people, we extend His grace and embrace all those who might be considered outsiders, welcoming them to become part of 'God's Dream Team.'