“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:11-22 ESV)
Can you imagine a better call by God than Paul as the missionary to take the Good News to the Gentile world? His rabbinical training and Jewish pedigree, his tireless enthusiasm for the sake of the Gospel, his ability to thrive under less-than-ideal circumstances—these all made the apostle a superb worker in God’s Gentile vineyard (see Galatians 2:1-14).
Still, there must have been a pretty steep cultural learning curve as Paul hit the highways and byways of Asia Minor. There he encountered distinctions and divisions among peoples, beliefs, rituals, and languages. Romans, Hellenistic Greeks, leftover Persians, Armenians, colonist Jews, and other people groups made up this well-trampled part of the Roman Empire that Paul crisscrossed.
But it wasn’t the human differences separating peoples that mattered most to Paul. It was the spiritual separation, “the dividing wall of hostility” between sinful mankind and a holy God that had to come down. And that was only possible through the cross of Christ. Only through Jesus could Gentile strangers and aliens become fellow citizens in faith and members of the household of God.
And today—God is still at work tearing down the walls of hostility. The dismantling may begin at an outdoor Gospel rally in Zambia or over a fish fry down by the river. Either way, we can all join that long tradition of telling others about our Savior and how much He loves us.
And by the grace of God, we may even see some dividing walls come tumbling down.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, create in us a genuine love for others and a willingness to tell them about Jesus. In His Name. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Paul Schreiber.
Reprinted with permission from Lutheran Hour Ministry
1. Have there been any walls of hostility God had to tear down to establish a relationship with you?
2. How hard do you think it was for a first-century Gentile to be receptive to Paul’s Gospel message?
3. What are the most frequent objections or questions people have when you talk to them about God and Jesus and salvation?