Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
In Ephesians 2, Paul says Jesus broke down the wall of hostility between Jews and Gentiles (v. 14). What wall?
Israel became a nation when a company of Israelites escaped Egyptian slavery, wandered in the desert, waged war against the inhabitants of Canaan, and took the land for themselves.
After that, the nation of Israel vacillated between friendship and hostility with neighboring Gentiles and their gods. God had instructed Israel to be a unique nation—eat the right foods, sacrifice the right animals, keep right holidays, and observe many cultural and moral commands. The prophets constantly reminded Israel to be faithful to their scripture and their God, but the people were fatally attracted to the politics and religions of other nations. They often forgot their unseen God.
In more recent times, a remnant of Jews who survived the horrors of World War II established a Jewish nation, waging war to drive out the Palestinian inhabitants and create a Jewish state.
A wall of hostility, Paul says, between Jews and Gentiles. When Jesus stepped into the middle of that hostility, he annoyed both groups. His God was too liberal for the conservative Jewish religion. He disrespected the Romans by refusing to answer Pilate’s questions. In a rare instance of Jews and Gentiles working together, they crucified Jesus. And we call him a peacemaker?
In what way did Jesus break down the wall of hostility between Jews and Gentiles?
Paul says that Jesus “created in himself one new humanity, thus making peace” (v. 15). It’s a lesson our world needs. We all belong to one human race and we see Paul locating the center of a peace-loving new humanity in Jesus.
Meanwhile the old humanity continues to build walls of hostility-–between Jew and Gentile, between Gentile and Gentile. Since Jesus’ time, we’ve had European pogroms, we’ve had the Crusades, we’ve had inter-Christian conflicts and wars. Today, many North American Christians are sorting themselves into hostile camps: conservative, pro-gun, pro-life, anti-vaxx tribes, and inclusive pro-choice liberal camps.
Where is the united center? Are Christians building the wall of hostility that Jesus came to destroy?
Our father, we bring to you a fractured Christendom, a world in disunity, and a creation groaning under the weight of disordered humanity.
Is Jesus still breaking down walls of hostility? Where is the new humanity he created?
We thank you for places where his new humanity destroys walls of hostility. In ourselves, as we grow in respect for fellow humans and creation. As we resist the urge to splinter our families and churches into tribes based on politics and vaccinations and minor points of doctrine.
We thank you for every agency that brings healing and relief in our world; for those who serve Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and flood victims in Pakistan and war casualties in Ukraine. Your work goes on, breaking down walls that we keep building.
O God, teach us to feed the hungry, to accept strangers, to be true to your words of life, to think more of others and less of ourselves, to destroy walls instead of building them.
Bring quickly the time when the new humanity in Christ replaces this old humanity.
I’m Daniel, on the channel “Pray with Me”.
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