Ryan Paulson | 03 February 2020
A number of years ago I had the chance to visit Berlin. It’s a remarkable city, and one of the most prominent tourist attractions is the remains of the wall that used to run through the center of town. I can remember watching the news in 1989 when the wall was destroyed. Even as a young boy, the scene made an impact on me. People who previously weren’t able to pass freely back and forth, were able to traverse and travel without restraint.
The remains of the wall itself were interesting, but more noticeable was the stark contrast between the architecture of buildings on the east and west side. The eastern buildings were bland and utilitarian, while the western buildings had character and artistic flare. It reminded me that in many ways, the wall had created two different groups of people. They had different ideas about the world, different privileges, different ways of expressing themselves, and different expectations. The destruction of the wall made the two, one.
When the gospel infiltrated ancient Rome, it encountered the same type of a situation. There were two groups; Jews andGentiles. They had different ways of worshiping, different gods they revered, different table customs, and different rules for living. These were groups without shortage of animosity. In the temple, there was a wall that prevented Gentiles from entering the temple and they had a policy of putting to death anyone who intruded in an unauthorized and unholy way (Acts 21:27). When Paul announced that Jesus “has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14), there was still much work to be done in creating a new community. The wall that separated Jews and Gentiles might have fallen, but the walls in their hearts still stood.
The gospel is about wall demolition – both between us and God, but also between us and our fellow human beings. Paul cast a vision for this new community when he wrote … There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28) This was a unique community at the time, nothing like it existed anywhere on earth. The work of Jesus was enough to unite two groups that had previously despised one another and to do away with the categories that previously separated. The wall had fallen and two had become one.
Today, ask Jesus to show you the walls in your heart that still stand. Are they between you and God? Maybe between you and another person? And then spend some time in prayer asking him to do some wall demolition.