Home > Devotionals, Social Commentary > The “Dividing Wall of Hostility” Broken Down

The “Dividing Wall of Hostility” Broken Down

berlin wallTwenty years ago today, the Berlin Wall collapsed. For the first time in roughly forty years, people crossed from Soviet-controlled East Berlin into democratic West Berlin. Within three years, the entire Soviet Union fully dissolved. The physical embodiment of the metaphoric Iron Wall between democracy and communism was breached. Riotous celebration erupted in both East and West Berlin. People dismantled the wall individually, piece by piece, for souvenirs—more importantly, people individually tore down the wall to make a statement: peace is possible. Peace is preferred.

And Christ did the exact same thing for us—on an infinitely larger, spiritual scale—by His death on the Cross at Calvary.

Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the circumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 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 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. And He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”

Ephesians 2:11-22

Before the death of Christ, only Jewish people were considered to be in the family of God. They were God’s chosen people. They were at enmity with the Jews, wholly separate. They had no hope for salvation under the Jewish Law (but as Romans 3:20 asserts, no one has hope of salvation in the law). That is why Christ died; He died for all kinds of people, from every part of the world, in all different time periods. His death brought Gentiles into the fold of the family of God. Christ reconciled Jews and non-Jews. In Christ, all Christians—regardless of ethnicity—are brothers and sisters.

More than reconciling born-again people to each other, Jesus Christ also reconciled His people to God by His death on the Cross.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”

2 Corinthians 5:17-19

Christ’s death did not make salvation possible; He redeemed all whoever would ever come to faith in Him on the Cross and purchased our redemption! Therefore, by reconciling “us both to God in one body through the cross,” Jesus brought His ethnically-diverse people into one body—His. We, the church, are Christ’s body, and He is our head. And upon the foundation of Christ, we grow into a holy temple in the Lord, corporately.

We do not only have corporate peace with each other and with God but also individual peace with each other and with God. Individually, we are to be unified with one another in the faith of Jesus Christ. There is no place for pride amongst Christians; neither is there any place for racism. Nor are we to judge one another as Christians; there are, however, overlapping issues of how to handle Christian discipline (whether even to practice loving discipline at all within the church) in this subject, which I will cover in a later post. More importantly than being reconciled to one another, though, we are individually reconciled to God by Christ’s finished work on the Cross. In fact, human reconciliation stems from divine reconciliation. Christ visibly broke down the wall separating us from God as recorded in Mark 15:33-38:

And when the sixth hour [noon] had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour [three in the afternoon]. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, He is calling Elijah.” And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to Him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come and take Him down.” And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed His last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.”

The “curtain of the temple” was the veil separating the Holy of Holies—where the presence of the Lord dwelled—from the rest of the temple. No one but the High Priest was allowed to enter—and he was allowed access only once per year, on the Day of Atonement. Christ, in providing the ultimate and full Atonement for God’s people, tore down the veil, both figuratively and literally. It tore from top to bottom—from heaven to earth, from God to mankind. Christ, in His death, gave us Christians all “access in one Spirit to the Father.”

Therefore, fellow Christians, since we are reconciled both to each other and to God, let us act as such. Let us be forgiving and loving, unified with one another. Let us boldly approach the throne of grace. Let us go to God in worshipful prayer, thanking Him for reconciling us to Himself through Christ. Let us live in the light of this truth daily, both in gratefully worshipping God and actively loving one another.

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