PEACE, 26-07-2000 version
He Is Our Peace
Cooperative “bridge building” game.
I. The Walls Are High And There Are Many
There are many other walls in our world.
There is a wall between God and us. It is a high wall and we have built the wall with our own hands and minds and words. It is a wall of sin. We have built it so high that we can't get over it. We have built it so high that many people don't want to go over. We have built it so high that many people say there is nothing on the other side.
There is a wall between Jewish people and Gentile people. The wall was built long ago and exists to this day. The Mid-East peace talks which took place in mid July broke down because they could not find common ground.
Many years ago, Jews hated non-Jews and thought that they were better. They had God's laws and had a relationship to God. They excluded anyone who was not a Jew and so built the wall higher and higher. They kept the Gentiles out by withholding from them the promise of a Messiah. Messiah was for the Jews and not for anyone else. They kept the Gentiles out by withholding from them participation in the people of God. There was a sign in the temple which said, "No foreigner may enter within the barricade which surrounds the sanctuary and enclosure. Anyone who is caught doing so will have only himself to blame for his ensuing death."
But the Gentiles also built the wall. One time, Gentiles defiled the temple by sacrificing a pig. In 70 AD they the temple and the city of Jerusalem. You may have heard about what the Nazi's did to the Jews during the second world war.
There are many other walls in our world. My brother was in the southern US a while back and told me that the schools in some states are segregated. Whites in one, blacks in another. In the malls, the white people walk on one side and the African Americans on the other. We as Canadians have not treated First Nations people very well. There are walls between castes in India, between Protestants and Catholics in Ireland and English and French in Quebec. What are the walls in your world?
We are wall builders and have built walls all around us. Walls divide, and we need someone to break down walls and make paths if we are to cross to the other side.
How are you experiencing walls? How do you build walls?
II. Jesus Is A Wall Breaker
A. He Broke Down The Wall Between Us And God
But Jesus is a wall breaker and a bridge builder! Listen to Ephesians 2:14-22.
He has broken the wall between us and God. The wall of sin has come crashing down around the cross. It is no longer a barrier to keep us from God. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, he cried out, "It is finished." With that cry, we could hear the sound of tearing cloth as the veil in the temple was torn in two. That was the sound of the biggest wall of all crashing down. Although many people still see a barrier between them and God and some are desperately trying to rebuild the wall, it is not there any more. If we believe in Jesus as Saviour, we can walk straight over to God without even having to step over any rubble.
I knew a man who grew up in a Christian community. He himself was not a Christian and, in fact, mocked Christians and lived a life apart from Christianity. Even though he knew the way, he did not accept it. At the time, I was a seminary student and there was no way that I could approach him about faith. Quite a few years later, I met him again and there was a radical change in him. He was involved in ministry in a church and was excited about Christian things. What had happened? God had come into his life and removed the wall. Now rather than a wall between him and God, there was a path and he knew and loved God. God breaks down the wall between us and Him!
B. He Broke Down The Wall Between Jew & Gentile
The wall between Jew and Gentile has also come crashing down. This represents one of the biggest walls history has ever seen between people. Through his death on the cross, Jesus brought it crashing down. No longer were the Jews the only ones who had access to God. Through Jesus, there is a new path of access to the presence of God. Formerly, there were walls. Only Jews could enter into the temple, all others were excluded. Only men could enter the inner court, all others were excluded. Only priests could enter the holy place, all others were excluded. Only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies - the presence of God - and only once a year. Now, there is access to God for all who come through Jesus. There is access into His presence so that we can come directly to him and pray and speak to him having been cleansed by the blood of Jesus. We do not need to go to the temple to pray, we can come to him any time, day or night. There is access to His power, so that we can sure that his power is working on our behalf. That is why we can ask with confidence, "where is the power of God active in your life?" and "where do you need the power of God?" This access is through the Spirit who indwells every believer, so that it is not so much that we go to God, but that he has come to us and is within us to help us.
Using the language of the state, we read that Jesus made it possible for Jews and Gentiles to be fellow citizens of the household of God. This was not an alliance of Jew and Gentile, not a friendly agreement to live in peace, not an outward combination or partnership. Rather it was a complete permanent fusion, a perfect spiritual union of formerly clashing elements into one new organism, even a new humanity. They became naturalized citizens having full rights as citizens.
Using the language of family, Paul tells us that in God's house, there are no boarders, all are children. All who accept Jesus are fellow sharers in the inheritance.
Using the language of biology, he says that all are now fellow members of the body of Christ, no longer two different bodies, but one new body.
Using the Old Testament language of religion, he talks about the new temple which is being built. All people, whether Jews or Gentiles are being built into a new temple. The cornerstone which marks the beginning and direction and shape and straightness of the new temple is Jesus Christ. The foundation of this new temple is the apostles and prophets who first proclaimed the message. In Ezekiel, we read about the vision in which he saw a new temple which God would build. In Revelation, the language of Ezekiel finds its fulfillment in the promise of the temple of God which will come down out of heaven. Here in Ephesians, we see what that temple is, it is not a physical building, rather, it is made up of the people of God from every tribe and tongue and nation who have been made into one new building in Christ. Instead of a dividing wall between people, Jesus has created a beautiful new living building in which God dwells.
C. He Breaks Down Walls In Our World
Jesus is the one who breaks down walls in our world if we let him. Because we are all related to Christ and are being built into a temple which God is making, Jesus continues to break walls and build bridges.
One day, I had a call from someone I had never met before. He was representing a mission agency and called to ask if we could meet. We invited him and his wife and their boys to come to our place for supper and to stay at our place for night. They had a motor home and so just plugged in at our place, but the next morning, when none of us were home, they used our bathtub and telephone and made themselves at home. We had a wonderful time of fellowship with them. This is the blessing of broken walls in Christ.
One year we were living in Vancouver for a few months and we visited different churches. One church we visited was very interesting. As we walked into the church, we were greeted by an African American brother who was a deacon. Then as the service began, a woman of Chinese descent began to lead the service. When the worship team got up, we sang songs in English and in Spanish. It was a multi-ethnic church. It was a wonderful experience because there were no walls there. They had been broken down by Jesus.
Jesus has broken down walls and built paths of peace, but what would He say to us today? Are we guilty of building walls again? Are we working against Jesus the wall breaker? We identified some walls before. Are you participating with Jesus in being a bridge builder or working against Him as a wall builder? Some kids are different and don’t really fit in. Do you build walls between yourself and them or do you make paths? Because we may both know Jesus, we should be able to realize that we are one in Christ and make sure that we don’t build walls. But sometimes we do. How do you experience walls being built?
Many of you are from Rosenort. Some of you are not. Are you building walls between each other or making paths? If you are Christians, the fact that you are from different communities should not make a difference.
Sometimes people have different ideas about what it means to be a Christian. Now, we can’t compromise on the truth of God, but when it comes to areas that are not essential, we need to realize that all who know Jesus as saviour are brothers and sisters. Are we building walls or paths?
How about walls built by money? Are poor people welcome in our church or in our circle of friends?
What about walls of conflict between people in the church. There are people in church who like only hymns and others who prefer choruses. Are we building walls between us and them or are we making paths?
There are old people in the church. What have you done to build a path to the senior’s in the church?
We have to admit that we have sinned, we have built walls. We need to allow Jesus to break down those walls and to build paths.
Do you have walls in your world? Perhaps you still have a wall between yourself and God. Jesus came to break that wall down. If you accept Jesus into your world, he will break down the wall between you and God.
Perhaps you have walls between yourself and some other person. Jesus came to break down walls. I want to encourage you to allow Jesus to be a wall builder between you and other people.