“WISDOM OF LIVING (48): WALLS”                 By Pastor YAU

Text: Ephesians 2:13-18                                          December 17, 2006

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   Ancient walls: Most of the world knows the Great Wall of China. But there are other walls built in ancient times for similar purpose as that of the Great Wall. When Julius Caesar invaded the south coast of Britain in 55 B.C. he met with fierce resistance. After more than a century and a half of wars and the loss of over 30,000 Celtic lives, Roman Emperor Hadrian ordered a wall constructed in 122 A.D. to separate the Romans from the barbarians to the north known as Scotland now. The Hadrian’s Wall stands to this day.

2)   Modern walls: After the WWII, many more walls were built to separate political worlds: the famous Berlin Wall separated East Berlin from West Berlin for more than half a century. The wall at 38 parallel in Korean Peninsular separates the Communist North Korea from the Democratic South Korea. Israel is building a wall in the Gaza strip to separate the Jews from the Palestinians. A new wall is being considered by the US Congress on the southern border to stop illegal immigrants from Mexico and other countries.

 

STILL OTHER WALLS: Too many to count. Here are some common ones: certainly you may add a few more to the list.

1)   Racial walls: This is not just a problem in American society at large it is also a problem of minorities including Chinese. In the early history of this nation, Chinese was discriminated against in many ways from immigration laws to employment, from restricted location to live and work to attending schools to everyday abuse in words and attitude. On the other hand, Chinese are not less discriminating against other races. Many Chinese still feel uncomfortable to work with or live close by or make friends with people of other races. Interracial marriage still is being looked at by some as less preferable.

2)   Cultural walls: Even though we want to believe that America is a melting pot of all cultures, the truth is there are many walls built to separate cultures. Walls of language, custom, value, life style, food and many other cultural issues still separate people from different origin even within the same race such as Chinese. Because of these cultural differences, some are reluctant to cross over to get to know each other and thereby allow the wall to remain or to get thicker.

3)   Emotional walls: This one is more serious and personal. It affects our relationship with people and the level of happiness we may have in life. We build emotional walls against those we don’t like, people who may not act, speak or live as we think they should. We also use emotional walls to punish others even our loved ones. Emotional walls block out our feeling about them even they may sit next to you or eat dinner on the same table. This could happen between spouses or children to parents or even at the church. Sometimes we feel the chill in the air when we are with people by looking at their faces or the tone of their words or their silence and we know there is an emotional wall in between. Emotional walls are the most effective weapon to destroy relationship in all settings: at home, at work, in church and among friends.

4)   Spiritual walls: By far this is the most serious problem we may have. This has to do with the essence of our deepest needs. Man, as the supreme spiritual being God has made, has built many walls to block out God, the source of all spiritual needs. We block out God by focusing on feeding our physical needs, striving for things to build our self esteem and flood our schedule with activities to feel that we are successful and important because we are so busy. Until you are alone in a sleepless night, looking at all the things you have and feeling how empty and lonely you are on the inside. You feel the total meaninglessness on all the things you have achieved and the terrible emptiness in your soul. Many of the wise of this kind have turned around their life, torn down those walls and become fervent on spiritual pursuits. Others chose to ruin their life in reckless life style or to end their emptiness in tragic ways.

 

THE HARM OF WALLS: Except in rare cases, most walls do more harm than good even to those who built them.

1)     Walls hedge hatred: For centuries, the wall between races created more hatred, suspicion and anger than peace and harmony. For those of us who moved to this country relatively a short time, we still see the venoms of the walls of segregation and discrimination. People on both sides accumulated ill feelings of the other and it is a matter of time waiting to explode. God did not create people to be segregated by race or skin colors. It was unfound pride and selfish protectionism that promoted walls to be built. Walls also lead to cruelty and mistreatment based on pride and prejudice. We as Christians need to see people from God’s perspective and try our best to abolish any possible walls between races. We also need to reject the temptation of pride over others because of skin color.

2)     Walls create ignorance: We all know the importance of mutual understanding through communication be it at home, between friends or in a community. Walls, real or imagined, block people from getting to know each other and therefore create ignorance on each other. Ignorance oftentimes creates fear and false assumption that leads to many unnecessary conflicts and harm on both sides. Walls between languages and cultural differences create struggle and mistrust which leads to weakened cooperation between people. Christians need to be courageous to crossover to others who are different from us in language, background, culture and value. We are all in God’s family and there is no room for walls.

3)     Walls destroy relationships. From international politics to personal relationship in a marriage and family, a friendship or a church, walls are the most vicious enemies that will practically destroy anything we may achieve. Emotional walls is the most vicious to destroy relationship. Withholding emotional warmth and energy to others can create chill effects and blocks others out of your heart. We need to learn from Jesus to have compassion in our hearts that will generate emotional warmth toward others and to draw them close to each other. We need to be bridge builders in relationship with people even to those we may find it hard to understand. It is through this endeavor we are able to build harmony with others so they may be drawn to know Christ.

4)     Walls hinder growth: Walls between people means segregation and division. This will effectively hinder cooperation and growth. This is true in personal growth as well as growth of all kinds: political, business, missions and church. When people build walls to keep others out, there is little room, if any, for more effective growth. The fact that we have many walls to separate people from working together to achieve more and bigger purposes is something many of us lament. Walls that divide the Chinese community make it impossible for us to achieve higher goals or make bigger impact in the community at large.

 

GOD DEMOLISHED WALLS: From early days of human history, a wall was built between God and man after man had sinned against God. (Gen. 3:24) The wall of separation remains through history even when man was in search of a way to God. Until. . . . 

1)   God initiated a relationship: “But…you who were once far away (from God) have been brought near.” (Eph. 2:13) The starting point of Christian faith is God sought men instead of men seek God like other religions do. From Genesis where God called Abraham to the New Testament when God sent Jesus to die on the cross, God always seeks to draw them close to Him. This is a tremendous act of love. In John 3:16, “For God so loves the world that He sent is only begotten son,” says it all about the active role God has taken in establishing a relationship with man.

2)   He demolished existing walls: “For He is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing walls of hostility.” (2:14) Paul was talking about God demolished the wall between man and God because He removed the wall of sin by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. God also demolished the wall between the Jews and the Gentiles when He called Paul to bring the message of salvation to the whole world. Through out the 2,000 years of Christian history, God has helped millions removed or destroyed many more walls between hostile parties at home, at work, friends and others. It is the message of peace and the power of the Holy Spirit that enable people to reconcile with each other.

3)   He paid a heavy price: “You have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” (2:13) The removal of walls between man and God has cost the blood of Jesus, the Son of God. “And in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross.” (2:16) We know that everything with value there is a cost, the higher the value, the higher the cost. God gave His only begotten Son to die on the cross so the wall between man and God may be removed and be reconciled with God. Same principle applies in the removal of human walls. One or both sides of a broken relationship need to be willing to pay a price in order to reconcile with each other.

4)   His job is not yet done: “He came to preach the message of peace to those who were far away and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access to the Father.” (2:17-18) God’s job of demolishing walls is not yet done until all men have made peace with God. That is why we have the Great Commission which commands us to preach that same message of peace to all people near and far. This is the primary purpose of our existence, both the church and all Christians. The church and all Christians are the extension of the mission of wall-removing. God started it and we need to finish it.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   Do you see any walls?  Look at your life, better in your heart, and see if there is any wall you may have built between you and others in your family, marriage, people around you at school, work or even the church. Find out why the walls are there, if you see some, and find ways to remove them.

2)   Have you been hurt by walls? Walls hurt relationship, growth, potential and the joy of life. Ask God to help you demolish those walls so you may grow higher, achieve more and live happier.

3)   A wall between you and God? Do you feel there is a thick wall that blocks you from getting close to know God and be saved? Do you know the reason? Ask God to help you remove those reasons and the wall so you may have direct access to God for eternal life.