We have been hearing a lot of talk about walls. Some people want to build them, and some are concerned about who is going to pay for them. There have been walls throughout history. Some were constructed to keep others out. Automatically, the Great Wall of China comes to mind. It was built in 221-206 BCE by millions of slave laborers in order to obstruct the Mongolian armies from invading.
The Jewish Old Testament writer Nehemiah, after leaving his position in exile as cup-bearer to the Persian king, also built a wall. Nehemiah led the the returning exiles in rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls. Unfortunately, this was also the topic of the inaugural day sermon with erroneous modern political applications. Both of these walls are examples of division in order to keep invaders out.
Likewise, there have been, and are, walls to sequester or keep people inside its borders. The Berlin Wall, which was suddenly and clandestinely erected in 1961, divided West and East. It separated families and friends for nearly thirty years. Prison walls, with their high fences, armed guards and barbed wires, do the same for punitive purposes.
Yet, two-thousand years ago a greater wall was razed.
“…at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For 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.” Ephesians 2:12-15, emphasis mine.
Now, there is a vast difference between political attitudes and spiritual truths. We must be careful not to confuse patriotism with our spiritual identity in Christ. The first is temporal, the last is eternal. The former is confined, the latter is universal. One necessarily focuses on divisions and pits “us” versus “them.” The other focuses on our similarities and recognizes our shared humanity and dependence on our Creator.
Regardless of what any nation chooses to do to “secure their borders,” or “protect their people,” as followers of Jesus Christ, we must see ourselves as a people of God not to be protected, but to protect.
“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:17
“And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10: 19
Here I am not speaking to American agendas. Honestly, I don’t understand enough about the formation of foreign policy. Here, instead, I speak to the heart of a Christian, whether that Christian resides in the United States,or Egypt, Hungary, the United Kingdom or Burma. Our heart must be against walls of animosity and criticism. While American policies may fluctuate between good and evil, as Christians we live to a higher standard, that of God’s justice and righteousness. The walls have already been brought down. So when I meet someone from Mexico whose child is having a difficult time adjusting at school, I will not question whether or not they are here legally. So, I will no longer question whether or not my recent financial contribution was used in a way that I deem responsible. So, when I hear in someone’s voice anger and hurt at past wrongs, I will not discredit their pain. I will not put up defenses. Instead, I will strive to discover commonalities, and see them through the eyes of Christ’s compassion. Our task is simply to step across the previously existing lines, and be grateful.