It’s hard to imagine a fence going straight through your town. Friends separated. Families torn apart. Whole lives changed because of a stupid fence.
A little background might help. When Nazi Germany was defeated in 1945, the Allied forces divided Germany into four sections to help it rebuild. Berlin was the capital, and even though it was in the Soviet section of Germany, it too was divided into four sections.
France, England, and the United States eventually combined their zones and pooled their resources, but the Soviets didn’t want to play ball with anyone. That made for an awkward situation in Berlin, which set clearly inside the Soviet section.
This will come as no surprise, but a lot of people in Berlin did not want to live under communist rule, so they just walked down the street into the section controlled by the west—and stayed there. When I say a lot of people, I mean a lot. Thousands of Germans changed addresses.
The communists running East Berlin were not too keen on the drain of their population, so on the night of August 12, 1961, they began sealing off entrances and exits—and over several weeks, a wall went up. And there it stayed for 28 years.
“Some people build fences to keep people out, and other people build fences to keep people in.” —Jim Bono, Fences
Another wall stood for even longer than that. It was a wall the Jews constructed against the Gentiles—all those who were not of their race and religion. It was not a physical wall, but it was real nonetheless. The Berlin Wall was constructed to keep people in, but the wall constructed by the Jews was to keep people out. The Jews proudly saw themselves as God’s chosen people. God chose us. He likes us more than He likes you. We’re in good with God; you’re not.
Yes, the Jews are God’s chosen people, but that doesn’t mean what they twisted it to mean. The Jews were chosen to be the conduit through which God revealed His Word, His love, and ultimately, His salvation through Jesus Christ.
The Jews had used the law as a wall. Obedience to the law was the route to salvation, but the Jews held it closely to themselves; it was their law—and their route to God. The problem was the Jews did a lousy job of keeping the law. They may have been God’s chosen people, but they needed salvation as much as anyone.
And it was Jesus who brought the wall down. He met the demands of the law for all of us—Jew and Gentile. No more need for the law; therefore, the Jews lost the basis for any hostility toward others.
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. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit” (Eph. 2:14-18).
I need to make sure I’m not building walls.
- Walls to keep myself in and protected from any interaction with a sinful world.
- Walls to keep others out who don’t look and think like me.
Lest you think your church has no such walls, consider how segregated most churches are on Sunday mornings.
We need bridges, not walls, and we need to be aggressive in building those bridges. Want to build a bridge? Here are Six Keys to Building a Bridge to Someone.