Ephesians 2:11-2211So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision” —a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— 12remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. 17So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.
This Scripture passage makes me think of the musical West Side Story. In this story there is a feud between two teenage street gangs, the Jets and the Sharks. Each of these comes from different cultural backgrounds. Trouble begins when Tony, a member of the Jets, falls in love with Maria, the sister of Bernardo the leader of the Sharks. This event should reconcile the two groups; however, it causes even more conflict.
“Jets or Sharks”, “in or out”, “for us or against us”, “chocolate or vanilla”, “stranger or friend”, “them or us”, we hear these comments all of the time. There is division all around us. There was even division in the early Christian church. Paul is answering questions about this conflict in the letter to the Ephesians. “Did Jesus come for the Jews or the gentiles?” Paul’s answer was simple, “yes.” Jesus did come to fulfill the Jewish prophecies. Plus, Jesus came for those who are not Jewish. Jesus came to break down the walls that divided the world especially those that divided the Christians who were both Gentile and Jews. Jesus came for all.
We put up social, cultural, and financial walls all of the time. I think about the walls that I put up in my life and the walls that the church puts up around itself. Walls help define who we are, but they also close others out. Jesus came into this world and made no distinguishing walls. He came and ate with tax collectors, he talked with prostitutes, he walked with sinners, he stayed with the poor. Jesus came to break down the walls that separate us from each other.
We are called to be one church. We do that through Christ and the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. It is through Christ that reconciliation is made. It is through Jesus’ death and resurrection on the cross that we are made new. Through his death we are made one.
What are the walls that we have put up in our lives? How can we break down the walls that we have built around us? How can we come together as one people of God?
Prayer: God of All, help us to tear down the walls that we build up. Empower us to be the church that you have envisioned, one that reaches out and welcomes all. In Jesus’ holy name we pray. Amen.