No Walls in Church, Please!

8 04 2020
After social distancing is no longer required and you enter a gathering of Christians again, you will be participating in the most remarkable sociological and spiritual phenomenon in two millenia. Whether the meeting room is a grand auditorium, a rented hall, or a living room, the miracle of the gathering is primarily invisible to the human eye.

You need revelation to understand the profundity of the Church.

Blessedly, the Apostle Paul received that revelation, and penned it for us – mostly in his letter to the Ephesians.

We continue our journey across the high mountain peaks of timeless truth (“orthodoxy”). In Ephesians chapter one we glimpsed the majesty of the tri-une God and the cascade of spiritual blessings we have in Christ. Then in 2:1-10, your soul once doomed, now saved called us to gratitude for our salvation. Now, we turn to the miracle of the Church, the body of Christ.

Last November, my wife and I got to visit the Holy Land. On one of our days we observed a model of Jerusalem as it was at the time of Christ. I bought a photo book from the gift shop to remember the details. One of the most intriguing particulars was a short wall which one could probably have stepped right over, but doing so was strictly forbidden. Religiously and socially, this low stone barrier would invisibly extend about as high as Trump’s wall along the Mexico border. Paul describes it as “the middle wall of separation”(Eph.2:14).
In Herod’s temple (the “second temple,” following that of Solomon), which stood when Jesus and Paul ministered (till its destruction in 70 AD), this short but insurmountable wall  (or balustrade) kept all Gentiles out of the worship areas of the temple. My guidebook says, “According to Josephus, signs in Greek and Latin were posted along this barrier, warning gentiles against trespassing, on pain of death.”

The insiders were the Jews, who for centuries enjoyed (and broke) the covenants of God. To appreciate the extreme difference between the Jewish insiders and Gentile outsiders, you ought to watch two miniseries on Netflix, “Shtisel,” and “Unorthodox.” In my opinion, these inside looks at ultra-orthodox Jewish communities today depict the revitalization of Phariseeism. You get a taste of the religious pride and cultural entrapment which strict observation of the Law and ordinances leads to.

You also see why Jesus was not popular among the religious elites of His day.

But I must come to the point for today. When you next experience a Christian gathering, there is no wall of separation – at least not in the heavenly places where it was designed and from where it is managed today.

If it is truly a fellowship in which Jesus is the host, there is no barrier excluding some and permitting only insiders. Because of the cross, Jesus “is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation” (2:14).Every single person in your gathering has the same full right to be there, because Jesus is in charge, and as we will see, you have entered “the fellowship of the mystery.

We’re blind to its wonder until we see it with His eyes. But that will need to wait till next time.

 Photo credits: broken wall from:
Temple model from: