What is your immediate thought when you read the words, “Tear down those walls?” I suspect that most people can immediately visualize Ronald Reagan looking at the wall that separated Eastern Europe from the West and challenging Mr. Gorbachev to tear the wall down that represented the iron curtain. It wasn’t long before the walls came down and the Soviet Union became a thing of the past. But let’s be clear there are lots of walls that need to come down besides that one. It really seems that we are extremely adept at erecting walls between people. Politically there are not only walls between the democrats and republicans, but inside the parties there are walls to make our accepted group even smaller. Racially there are huge walls that cause people to believe that if you don’t share the same color of skin or speak the same language you can’t possibly understand what someone of a different race thinks about life. I know that it was God that brought about the initial separation of people. When they tried to build a tower so they wouldn’t be separated God mixed up their languages so that people who could understand each other went in one direction to build cities and nations and those of another language went in another direction. God’s plan was for man to be fruitful and multiply to replenish the earth. Everyone staying in one place wouldnt’ accomplish such a mission.
God also separated Israel as a nation from the other nations during the Old Testament time to protect the promise that the Messiah would come into the world as a descendant of Abraham, and later of David. When Jesus came, it became obvious rather quickly that he planned to tear down many of the walls that separated people. He intentionally went to Samaria, a people rejected by the Jews, and taught the Samaritan woman at the well and then taught the city about salvation. Many of them became His disciples after the woman went into to town shouting, “Come see a man who told me all things that I’ve ever done. Could this be the Christ?” They rushed out and listened to Jesus, pleading with him to stay there and continue teaching them. He stayed for two days. His story of the Good Samaritan should have signaled that walls were beginning to crumble. When he had died on the cross and been raised from the dead, he stood with the apostles to commission them for the vital work they would do. He said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved. He who does not believe will be condemned.” Luke records his final speech to them before ascending back to God in Acts one. They asked if this was the time when he would restore the kingdom to Israel, thinking he was ready to rebuild their empire, build the walls higher than ever and isolate them from others. Instead he said, “It’s not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Jesus launched the mission to tear down the walls that separated people by bringing all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds into his kingdom over which he would reign from heaven. Later as Paul wrote to a church in a Gentile city called Ephesus he described the plan of grace that offered salvation and citizenship in God’s kingdom to anyone willing to come to him through faith. He pictured how it was before the cross and the Gentiles were without hope and without God in the world. “BUT NOW IN CHRIST JESUS you who 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 those who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”
Jesus is all about ripping down walls of hostility that divide people up. He wants us all to be part of the one body that is his church.
What has happened since then? How well have we done as followers of Christ in keeping the walls down? I know we fear those of completely different religions, especially ones like Islam that has so many who want to destroy everyone who differs from them. They are certainly building a wall of hostility. But we must be honest and admit that one of the primary reasons we who follow Christ have been so weak in reaching out with the gospel to those hiding behind their walls, is the walls we have built to block each other from our space. When people in the church at Rome started erecting walls over matters that were piddling Paul wrote them to say, “The kingdom of God isn’t about food and drink but is about righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” I wonder what percentage of the people involved in all the rioting, destroying, screaming and accusing call themselves followers of Christ. I wonder what percentage of those whom they wish to destroy share that allegiance to Christ.
The wars, the walls and the screaming will never be halted by the police no matter how many or what color they are. It won’t be stopped by government or by laws, by presidents, or congress or anything else of the sort. There is an answer. It is for people who share faith in Christ to rip the walls down that Christ pulled down 2,000 years ago. If we worship the Lord together, pray together, commune together and build each other up in the faith we will come to understand one another and realize we not only all share the human race but we share a Savior and Lord whose heart has to break every time he sees and hears people who claim to love him speak with hatred toward others who claim to love him. When brotherhood in Jesus means more to us than racial or ethnic brotherhood the walls will come down between us. Then we can have the power and purpose to reach out with the gospel to others who don’t know Christ as Savior and Lord.
It’s time to have a revival of wall removal. It can only start with you and me refusing to hide behind walls of distrust.