“. . . 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.

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5 thoughts on “Sin-created walls”

  1. Thabiti says:

    Amen and AMEN! Thank you for exalting Jesus and swinging the gospel hammer brother!
    Longing for that most surprising church plant,
    T-

  2. Flyaway says:

    Praying and praying and praying that all Christians will keep their eyes on the goal to spread the Gospel. I always ask myself–is this spreading the Gospel and making disciples?

  3. Doug Redford says:

    How many churches have firmly decided to “camp” on one side or other of the schism and, while doing so, are not even interested in the other? Only the gospel, fully understood and practiced, can provide the motivation for a church to take the risks necessary to bridge the schism. In doing so, churches must understand that there will be fallout and a price to be paid. Are we willing to these risks? Are we willing to lose something in order to gain something greater?

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Ray Ortlund


Ray Ortlund is senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and serves as a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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