On the Destruction of Walls
Let me begin this post by first showing you a couple of passages of Scripture that I believe fit very well together. First, from the Gospels; second, from Paul; third, from the book of Hebrews. Notice how all three passages speak to the the same ideas, peace, reconciliation, oneness.
“The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”–Mark 15:38
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace…”–Ephesians 2:14-15
“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”–Hebrews 10:19-22
All three of these passages, in their context, speak of something that happened when and because Jesus died. He ripped and destroyed and opened. I like these verbs…they are action words par excellence. They speak of the violent nature of the problem he encountered. There were real, significant barriers in the way of peace, reconciliation, and oneness. They also speak to the way he saw them: these were not chicanes that stood in the way that could be spoken to nicely or dealt with in counseling or massaged out of existence. Rather, these were real chicanes that needed ripped, destroyed, and opened. They required a death in order to be destroyed.
They were real strongholds we erected. They separated us from one another, from God, and from God’s kingdom. But because he died, because he did something, the way was opened up, hostility was destroyed, peace has been made, and one new people have been created. This is the action of God. Peterson rightly notes, “When we are pulled into the action, it is God who pulls us in. We acquire our identity not by what we do but by what is done to us” (Practice Resurrection, 117). This destroying, ripping, and opening is God’s action, not ours. We just get to be a part of it and enjoy it. Still, we do play a part in their perpetuation even if the action rests solely in God’s hands.
I’d like to leave it at that. I’d like to leave it with a very simple: God made a way where there seemed to be no way. God opened up what we had closed. God ripped apart that which we sewed together. God destroyed that which divides us and enabled us to be one again. I find this refreshing and encouraging and it gives me hope. There are a million ways we humans try to ‘come together’ and ‘make peace’ and ‘live as one.’ And not one of them ever works. In Jesus, however, and because of his death, all those things which previously kept us apart have been destroyed.
There is only one way we will be one, at peace, and reconciled: In Jesus.