Sustenance for The Spirit
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.”
Ephesians 2:14–16, NIV
In our Wednesday morning Ladies Bible Study, we’ve been focusing on Ephesians. Paul expends a great many words and no small amount of energy explaining the merging of Jews and Gentiles to a mutually inclusive group of Christ-followers, living a new gospel message of love and acceptance. The passage above is only three verses from a whole section in chapter two, where Paul describes this new expectation from God, revealed through His Holy Spirit. In our study group, as we discussed these passages, we discovered that centuries later we still seem to struggle with the concept of “one-ness.” We may not be dealing with Jews and Gentiles per se, but there are plenty of other ways we can apply the intent of being a united community, bonded by our love and faith in God. It’s just not easy to give up self in order to join with others who, may be like minded, but still very different from us in a multitude of ways. It truly is a “peace that transcends all understanding”(Philippians 4:7, NIV), human understanding that is. It’s an indescribable concept in our world of self-indulgence.
Maybe it’s the mention of the “dividing wall of hostility” in the passage above, and maybe it’s because I think of Robert Frost poetry in the fall, but recently, my thoughts have been detouring to the poem, “Mending Wall” with some frequency. When I finally took time to read through it, I was glad for the prodding. It’s a beautiful message of two neighbors who maintain a wall (rock fence in Texan), just because they always have and because it’s there. Neither neighbor can articulate why the wall is actually needed. Neither neighbor has livestock. They grow trees. Yet every spring, it is a ritual to walk along on either side of the wall together (yet apart) repairing holes, making the wall solid once again. Here are a few lines out of the mid-section of the poem:
“Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’ “
(Mending Wall, Robert Frost, lines 21–27)
Do we spend time mending walls that serve no purpose? Apply it however you want, because there are so many possible applications. The narrator of the poem continues on to ponder how and if it is even true that “good fences make good neighbors.” There is a time and place for boundaries, and fences provide safety and protection, but it might be worth evaluating, whether or not we repair lines of separation unnecessarily, or even unconsciously. God’s plan was for the Jews and Gentiles to be reconciled into one through the cross. This is the cross of Christ where he “put to death their hostility.” Let’s not assume that every broken wall needs to be fixed. Separation may not be good, even if that’s what we’re accustomed to.
Have a wonderful day!