Last weekend was a chance for our church to address an issue that is currently making headlines. And it may have made you uncomfortable. Sorry, not sorry.
The current unrest and protests in Baltimore are grabbing all the headlines. But the issue we tried to wrestle with last weekend has been around for a long time. (We were planning to talk about it long before the Freddie Gray story developed.) It’s the issue of what the apostle Paul calls, “the dividing wall of hostility.”
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…
He was referring to the Jew/Gentile dividing wall. But that’s just one version. There are dividing walls of culture, of race, of gender, of education, of wealth, of body type, of color, of language, and so on.
Our guest speakers last weekend (Mary Johnson, Dianne Jones, and Rosco Lockhart) shared their own stories of dividing walls. But many of you could share yours, too. Our world is fragmented by the dividing walls of hostility. Those walls are built with bricks of “historically justifiable suspicions.” Those walls make us feel safe, even comfortable. It’s much easier to be with people who are “like us.”
The resurrection is a battle cry to tear down the walls. So when we gather like we did last weekend, we’re going to grab those dividing walls and shake them so hard they start to crumble. That’s why the conversation often makes us uncomfortable. It will make all of us uncomfortable. Except for our heavenly Father, who is cheering wildly for his people! That’s why I’m not really sorry.
The church, the Body of Christ, is a new community, formed out of those who are being transformed. We’re called to the work of tearing down dividing walls and creating one new humanity.
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.
It’s not a call to ignore our differences, but to celebrate them together as expressions of the creative wonders of our God. As Dianne Jones poignantly asked us, “Who’s sitting at our dinner table?” Do the people you invite into your life/home always look just like you?
I welcome your contributions to the conversation below. And if you’d be interested in sharing your story at a future event, please let me know.