The Dividing Wall

THE BIG IDEA

Jesus came to end hostility 

THE BIBLE

Ephesians

SUMMARY:

Ephesians 2:14 For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.

Whenever we make a list and focus on our differences, that is the very wall that Jesus came to destroy. When I decide you are different then me, so therefore I don’t like you, or won’t sit by you, or won’t be friends with you, or wish you harm, or will talk bad about you, or will even use foul language to describe you; I am building the very wall Jesus came to tear down.

 

TALKING POINTS:

Ephesians 2:8-10

  • 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

    • What does it mean that we are God’s “masterpiece”? (everyone is God’s masterpiece)
    • What “good things” did Jesus create us to do?

     

     Ephesians 3:10-11

    10 God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.

    • How does having a church full of variety show off the power of God? (Very different people don’t associate naturally. That’s the power of God)

     

    Ephesians 3:18

    And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.

    • How wide is God’s love?
    • How long is it?
    • How high?
    • Deep?
    • Why do you think Paul pictures God’s love as having 4 dimensions (width, length, height, depth).

     

    Ephesians 4: 31-32

    31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

    • What would it look like if we all lived like this?

FULL MESSAGE:

The Dividing Wall

Welcome back to our series Goals where we are talking about Nehemiah, and his goal to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. We are reading his story and seeing what it can teach us about achieving goals in our own lives.

 

Now the people we are learning about in this story live in a culture totally different, almost alien to ours.

If we were to teleport…and time travel I guess to their location, we would experience some major culture shock.

Anyone have a story about a time they experienced culture shock?

 

There have been a few times in my life when I experienced some culture shock.

  • One was when I went to Africa. For one, there its super common for anyone to hold hands as a sign of friendship. Like two business dudes will settle a deal then leave the meeting room holding hands. I walked into a church to preach and the pastor grabbed my hand and walked me to the front. I was weirded out.
  • Another time is when you try to go to the bathroom in a third world country…I wont go into detail….just try it sometime.
    • Kevin and I even had this experience in a modern airport in Istanbul. The airport was modern. The bathroom was not.
  • Another culture shock is the food. In Africa they told us it was chicken, and it tasted like it. I was latter told it was snake.
    • Most people get culture shock whenever they eat pizza with me.
  • In Colombia, it is an insult to shut a car door too loud. I once got a taxi driver really mad.
  • Probably the biggest culture shock of my life though, had to be the time I went to a super bowl party. Football fans are weird. Just saying.

 

ANYWAY…

Tonight though, I wanted to take a short detour from Nehemiah’s story and talk about another Bible character and the wall they had to deal with.

 

QUESTION: Anyone wanna guess who I am talking about?

 

Jesus! Anyone know what wall He had to deal with? It’s called the dividing wall of hostility.

What does that mean? Let’s go to Ephesians and find out.

 

Ephesians 2:11 Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts.

 

Well there ya have it. Everyone got it? Clear as mud right?

 

In order to understand what we are talking about tonight we need to first establish some things.

What is a Jew? (Someone who is Jewish).

What is a Gentile? (Someone who is not Jewish)

 

Differences:


Jew

  • Descended from 12 tribes of Israel
  • Ate kosher
  • Clothing
  • Hygiene
  • Worship
  • Culture
    • Art
    • Academics
    • Language
    • Social Customs
    • Architecture
  • Circumcised


Gentile

  • Everyone else
  • Ate anything
  • Clothing
  • Hygiene
  • Worship
  • Culture
    • Art
    • Academics
    • Language
    • Social Customs
    • Architecture
  • Uncircumcised


Circumcision was a mark made in the body, and for the Jews it was a sign of their devotion and worship to God.

 

The Gentiles did not practice circumcision, and it was the primary way Jews separated themselves and judged the spirituality of others.

 

It was originally commanded by God, but was to be a sign of their hearts dedication to God. Over the years had had been corrupted and now no longer proved their devotion to God but rather just their own pride and was used as a tool to judge others.

 

This is why Paul says their circumcision affected only their bodies, and not their hearts.

 

All this to say; they were different from each other. You ever meet someone different then you? Maybe you’ve been to another country. Maybe even in a different state. Hey, maybe even the neighbor across the street seems like they are from another planet from you.

 

You don’t dress the same. You don’t listen to the same music. You have virtually nothing in common.

 

This is essentially what is going on in the church at Ephesus.

 

 

Jesus was a Jewish Messiah who came and died, rose from the dead, and started a global movement of people who believed in Him. A movement that included Jews and Gentiles.

 

So now all of a sudden you got these very, very different people who would almost never get along before, and now they are all Christians and hanging out together. And yet, they still didn’t really get along. And that’s why Paul is writing them, basically to tell them to knock it off.

 

Ephesians 2:14 For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.

 

What is the “dividing wall of hostility”? Lets look at that list of differences again.

That’s exactly what that wall is. That line in between that separated the Jews and gentiles. Whenever we make a list and focus on our differences, that is the very wall that Jesus came to destroy.

 

When I decide you are different then me, so therefore I don’t like you, or won’t sit by you, or won’t be friends with you, or wish you harm, or will talk bad about you, or will even use foul language to describe you; I am building the very wall Jesus came to tear down.

 

I am making myself an enemy of God’s work, and God’s will.

 

This includes being a bystander. To ignore injustice or to think its funny, to rejoice when someone we don’t like suffers harm, all of this is in opposition to Jesus and His way.

 

What is Jesus’s way? Well lets look back at Ephesians.

 

Ephesians 2:15-18 He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.

17 He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. 18 Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.

 

 

Jesus’s Way:

  1. Make the two groups one.
  2. Put hostility to death.
  3. Gave us same access to God.

 

 

  1. Make the two groups one.
    1. Change of allegiance.
      1. No longer find identity in their nationality or political affiliation, or over anything other than their mutually love for Christ.
    2. Acceptance of differences.
      1. Note- Paul never commands anyone to give up their culture. He didn’t say you have to stop being you, or that I have to stop being me.
      2. Rather, we must recognize and appreciate that each one of us is the image of God, even if we express that differently.
    3. They are not one cause one group just gives up and does it the others way. They are one cause they choose to love despite differences.
    1. Jesus reconciled both groups.
      1. They are reunited with God
      2. Reunited with each other.
  • Reconciled = apologize. Make amends. If you wronged someone, do what you have to to fix it.
  1. Put hostility to death.
    1. No longer participate in any form of hostility towards someone different then you.
      1. Includes racism, whether openly or as a “joke”.
      2. Hating someone cause of political affiliation.
  • Mocking someone cause they live different then you.
  1. Refusing to associate with someone who looks different.
  1. Hostility often can sneak up on us. Yeah, maybe you don’t openly say you hate someone, but do you participate in making them feel separated? Less? Unimportant?
  2. You cant passively put something to death.
    1. Its an action.
    2. We need to all actively seek to end hostility, seek justice, and stick up for others when they are bullied or taken advantage of.
  3. Gave us same access to God.
    1. We are all made in the image of God.
    2. This means we are all equally special to God.
    3. When we hurt someone else, we are hurting an image of God. How do you think God feels about that?
      1. Jesus said when we do a kind act to someone, its as if we are doing it to God. Don’t you think that same logic applies when we bully or exclude someone?
    4. Its is abhorrent, disgusting, and completely unacceptable to make racist comments, whether real or as a joke.
    5. Excluding or bullying anyone, offends God, and will not be tolerated at Crossover.

 

As Crossover, as Faith Church, as Christians we are completely committed to love, and completely against all forms of hate.

 

In a moment we are going to split into small groups to discuss how to do that further.

 

Jesus died to tear down the wall of hostility. Let’s not be people who rebuild it.

 

My challenge today is two fold:

  1. If you are apart of building that wall- stop it.
  2. Join me in tearing down everything that tries to divide us.

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