“. . . he has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.” Ephesians 2:14
Many invisible but powerful dividing walls of hostility stand firm, or seemingly so. We look at our social environments and sometimes we think, “Nothing is ever going to change around here. We’ve always been like this. Always will be.” But our sin-created walls are not as formidable as they appear. The gospel is designed to destroy such barriers through the finished work of Christ on the cross. Our part is simply the courage to pick up the gospel hammer and have a go.
In 1957 Billy Graham and Martin Luther King Jr. stood together at the New York evangelistic campaign. When they did that, the dividing wall of racial hostility suffered a hammer blow. From that moment on, no one could ever say, “But you can’t take that risk,” because those men did. It cracked the wall and created a door. Each man paid a personal price for that, I expect. But today we admire what they did.
Today a wall of sin-created hostility is “the fundamental schism in American cultural, political, and economic life. There’s the quicker-growing, economically vibrant, but also more fractious and more difficult to manage, morally relativist, urban-oriented, culturally adventuresome, sexually polymorphous, and ethnically diverse nation . . . . And there’s the small-town, nuclear-family, religiously oriented, white-centric other America, which makes up for its diminishing cultural and economic force with its predictability and stability . . .” (Michael Wolf, New York, 26 February 2001).
Churches with the discernment (there are biblical limits to our elasticity) and courage (wall-cracking is always criticized) to unite people from both Americas, as one under Jesus, will exert prophetic influence. Churches limited to one America or the other, however sincere, will have less impact.
The most surprising church ever has still to be planted. But someone somewhere is going to pick up the gospel hammer and strike a blow we’ve never seen before. The Lord will be present there.