Why Did Christ Tear Down the Wall? Part 1

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling

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.

Ephesians 2:14-16

In the last two reflections, we saw that Christ tore down the "dividing wall" between Jews and Gentiles through his death on the cross. His sacrifice not only secured salvation for individuals, but also paved the way for the end of hostility in communities of people. We intuitively sense that bringing an end to hostility is a good thing, but we might wonder what motivated Christ to do this, apart from a general sense of goodness. Specifically, why did Christ tear down the "wall" separating Jews from Gentiles?

Ephesians 2:15-16 offers a two-part answer to this question: "His purpose was [1] to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and [2] in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross." The original Greek of part 1 speaks literally of creating "one new man" (hena kainon anthropon) out of the two groups. The NIV rightly captures the sense of the Greek by saying that Christ's purpose was to create a new "humanity."

Notice also that this act of new creation is referred to as "making peace." In this way, Paul underscores the fact that peace isn't merely the ending of hostility between groups in conflict. Rather, it is also forming a new community with a profound and pervasive unity.

Though our situation might differ in detail from that of the early Christians, we still find ourselves in conflictual relationships, both personally and in our corporate life. Sometimes our warring factions take up sides in the workplace. Sometimes in families. Sometimes in churches. God's purpose for us is not only to bring an end to the hostilities that divide us, but also to form us into new communities that mirror the very unity of God.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: As you think about your life and relationships, are you a peacemaker? Where are you helping relationships or communities to experience the "one new humanity" of Christ?

PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for not casting us off, for seeing in us the potential to become what you had intended us to be from the beginning. Thank you for acting in Christ to bring an end to the hostility between people, to forge a positive, all-encompassing peace.

Lord, as you know, this peace eludes us most of the time. In our closest relationships, such as in our families, we often create conflict and live with disunity. The same is true in our workplaces, our neighborhoods, our churches, and our cities. Then, Lord, there is the wider world, so broken by violence, hostility, and injustice. May the peace of Christ make a tangible difference in our lives and our world, even as we await the day when your shalom will fully and finally encompass all things. Amen.

Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.