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Wrestling Walls

I’m not a builder. (Although, I do like building courage, confidence, and esteem in others.) So, while I may have formed an opinion on the matter, it’s an amateur and biased one—hopefully dripping with humility.

Now my dad was a builder, although a self-made one. He loved to build. (He also had tendency to tear down and demolish—sometimes planned, sometimes not.)

It seems to me that when you build, it should be something functional. Like a hospital, as opposed to a pyramid. Or a school, in contrast to, say, the Tower of Babel, that grand teacher of all things power and pride…and consequence.

Take a wall, for instance. It’s good for holding up a roof or enclosing a foundation of purpose. But, in itself, just seems rather senseless—a poor stewardship of resources and manpower.

As kids, my brother and I would build imaginary walls in the backseat of the car. And you’d better not cross it, either! It wasn’t very neighborly.

To have a good neighbor, don’t you have to be a good neighbor? Or am I just that naïve?

Didn’t Jesus paint a picture of how to be a good neighbor with his parable of the Good Samaritan? How would the merciful man have known someone was lying in a ditch, half-dead, if a wall came between them?

And wouldn’t it be hard to be a neighbor with something commandeering standing in the way?

I clearly remember the great joy and celebration when the Berlin Wall came crashing down. What a day for humanity that was!

Because, after all, hasn’t God built the nations . . . free of walls? Wall-less?

To assert boundaries not ordained or deemed necessary by God seems like we’re stepping over a boundary line, of sorts. And partitioning off a section of God’s world seems like we're crossing a line into the territory where pride reigns.

Besides, didn’t Jesus come to tear down walls?

And He commanded His disciples to go into every nation. Wouldn’t barricades hinder that mission? And God scattered His persecuted church into the diaspora. Don’t blockades stand in the way of progress? (Makes you wonder if they aren’t then instruments of an enemy opposing such a mission.)

Oh, for the day when there are no divisions between man. When barriers of hostility have ceased. Oh, but wait…

There were two people groups in hostility with one another—Jew and Gentile. But the God of Israel mercifully brought the Gentiles into fellowship with Israel—the two made one in Christ. Both reconciled to God and created into one new humanity through the Cross.

We’ve heard it said, “Love one another.”

Is it loving to erect obstruction between people?

Imagine, for a moment, a wall was built between nations. Shouldn’t the view be held that those dwelling “outside the wall” are created in God’s image? And those “inside the wall” are also created in man’s likeness? Wouldn’t that merely entrap sinners in…not just bar them out? (Or visa-versa.) We all suffer the same identity: human. Keeping humans in or keeping humans out seems futile. Fallen humans on one side of the wall . . . fallen humans on the other. Nothing but same-said humans on both sides.

The only way the relationship between my brother and I was reconciled, and peace restored, was by my father’s intervention from the driver’s seat. He then built relationship. But until he got involved, we continued to bicker and fuss and fight—unyielding and locked in a losing power struggle of irrelevance. As much as it might hurt, we will likely need some Heavenly-Father intervention to work things out. The thought makes me cringe.

We have One Who has said in omniscient wisdom: “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Some may argue that a wall keeps peace. Walls divide. And an inanimate object that divides can hardly perpetuate or actively promote peace.

Building neighborliness seems better than building walls. It’s pro-relational. It’s the loving thing to do.

The only wall-building that promotes peace is adding to the temple the Lord is building—a living, thriving, flourishing community which builds unity.

Q: What truth is found in Ephesians 2:19-22: “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (emph mine)?


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