Taking Down Dividing Walls
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.
During Lent, we prepare our hearts and minds for the coming celebration of Christ’s resurrection on Easter. This Lenten season may I suggest we consider approaching self-examination through attentively listening to the perspectives of ethnic groups and cultures other than the one with which we most closely identify.
To provide some background on my suggestion, recently I have been grappling with how to best understand and engage in race relations especially within a Christian framework. During this journey, Ephesians 2 has stood out to me as particularly relevant. In this passage, Paul asserts that the cross destroys the dividing wall of ethnic and cultural hostility between Jews and Greeks. In other words, reconciliation through the cross not only applies vertically between God and humans but also horizontally among all people groups.
Previously it had not occurred to me that racial reconciliation was one of the reasons for which Christ died. Sure, I clearly knew that racism is sinful, but I had not considered the reasons for Christ’s atoning sacrifice to extend beyond his desire to demonstrate love and grace through the forgiveness of my sins.
This has been challenging for me. Through new voices, some of my preconceived ideas about race and racism have been challenged and some panes of glass within my worldview have been shattered and replaced. But the good news is that the sharp contrast between the lament in identifying our wrong or incomplete ways of perceiving and the freedom of the truth can serve to amplify our joyful response at Easter to God’s reconciling work through the cross.