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Tear Down That Wall

The young couple was engaging in good-natured banter, when one turned to this bystander and asked, “Whose side are you on?” It was a light-hearted moment, and one teeming with opportunity. “There are no ‘sides,’” I replied, “There is only one side, and that is the two of you.” (Whew!)

In Peter’s culture, there were indeed two sides: Jews and everybody else (or “Gentiles,” for short). In their zeal to rise above the ways of the world, God’s chosen nation had come to regard other people of the world as “unclean” and to be avoided. This was never God’s intent, so through two men—one a Gentile and the other a Jew—He would show all that, in Christ, He had “destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility”1 that had improperly stood between these two people groups. To Cornelius, God sent an angelic herald bearing a humbling equation: devout, plus God-fearing, plus generous2 comes up short of salvation. The solution? “Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter,” the angel commanded the centurion, “He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.”3 Then as the centurion’s contingent approached the seaside city, God spoke humility also to Peter, this time through a vision. “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean,”4 He repeated. God was speaking primarily of people, as Peter would soon confess before his Gentile host, “God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.”5

As God makes us one with Himself through Christ, so also He joins us to each other as His body. To the Gentiles in Ephesus, Paul wrote, “now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made [Jews and Gentiles] one… 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… For through [Christ] we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”6 Becoming Christlike includes drawing together in Him, each honoring the other. To this end, Paul calls believers to be “one in spirit and of one mind,”7 adding, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.8 This is oneness. This is relational evidence of spiritual growth. For to grow together in Christ is to grow up into Him who “is all, and is in all.”9

Father, Christ is our peace. Grace us to grow up into Him, becoming one in spirit and of one mind and, in humility and joy, looking to the interests of others. In His name we pray. Amen.

1 Ephesians 2:14 NIV
2 Acts 10:2 NIV
3 Acts 11:13, 14 NIV
4 Acts 10:15 NIV
5 Acts 10:28 NIV
6 Ephesians 2:13-18 NIV
7 Philippians 2:2 NIV
8 Philippians 2:3, 4 NIV
9 Colossians 3:11 NIV

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