HE DESTROYED THE BARRIER
But now in Christ, you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. 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 (Eph. 2: 13-15a).
Racism is everywhere. It’s as old as humanity itself. People just can’t get along with others if they are a little different from themselves. If your skin colour or culture differs from your own, that is a reason to hate and to persecute him. Some governments have, in the past, built racism into their constitution and have made it legal to hate and to side-line those whom we want to hate. It seems that racism is deeply encoded into our fallen nature to despise those whom we consider less than ourselves.
It was no different in Jesus’ day. In fact, the Jews believed that God wanted it that way. He had instructed them, from the beginning of their history, to have nothing to do with the heathen. They were not to fraternise with their neighbours and they were, under no circumstances, to take part in their heathen worship.
Of course, God had a reason for giving them these prohibitions. He knew that any contact with the pagans around them was dangerous. They had already proved their fickleness when they were hardly out of the land of Egypt, where they had learned and adopted the ways of the Egyptians. They insisted on worshipping an object which they thought represented their God when He had forbidden them to worship a man-made image of Him.
They, unfortunately, believed that God hated the heathen. They thought that that was the reason for His antagonism towards them. He could not get them to understand that it was their evil religion that He hated, not the people themselves. The Israelites got into trouble with God and were severely punished for worshipping idols and adopting the wicked behaviour of the pagan. Because of that, they swung in the opposite direction, hating and despising the Gentiles to the extent that they tried to kill Paul for taking the gospel to the Gentiles in Europe and Asia Minor.
They had not realised their mission in the world, to obey God’s directions for living, recorded for them in the Torah, the five books of Moses, so that the heathen would see the true God through them and leave their idolatry to worship Him. They believed that God wanted them to have nothing to do with the Gentiles. It was perfectly acceptable for them to hate non-Jews because God hated them, so they thought.
But the message of Jesus was completely different from their philosophy. Jesus came to reveal the Father’s true nature to His people – His love and compassion for the world which He demonstrated by sending His Son to live as a perfect son. He died a criminal’s death to pay the debt of sin of the whole human race. God’s plan was to reconcile all people to Himself, to do away with race, colour and cultural distinctions and to create a new race of people who love one another and belong to His family.
There is no legislation that can get rid of racism. We have an inborn capacity to hate and be suspicious of those who are different from ourselves. Legislation won’t take it away and not even the decision to be tolerant will take it away. We cannot change our own hearts. Racial prejudice is part of our old nature. It needs the radical intervention of God to change our nature, give us a new heart, and release in us the love of God which views people from a different perspective.
The miracle of the gospel, the marvel of what Jesus did on the cross, is that God actually intervenes in our lives to activate His nature in us when we relinquish control to Him. He did what man cannot do. He took away our animosity and mistrust towards one another and replaced it with a new attitude of acceptance and love.
I experience this every day of my life. I belong to a church family made up of a spread of people from many different cultures and people groups. We experience unity and harmony in our fellowship that is deeply embedded in Christ. Racial tension has been obliterated and replaced with love and trust, patience and tolerance which is not forced on us. It is not unnatural or fake.
God, through Jesus, has taken away the reason for animosity. We no longer live in fear or mistrust of one another because we are not slaves but sons. God has given us the Spirit of adoption. We are now brothers and sisters in Christ, belonging to the family of God and having the same Father.
This is the remarkable miracle God does in the hearts of those who put their trust on Jesus and return to the family of God. And, through the power of God through what Jesus did on the cross, we come back to God’s original plan what we should be one with Him and with one another in the Father’s love and under His authority.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3, eBook 978-4828-0511-6
My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), a companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.
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