Reflection on Mark 6:30-34, 53-56, 2 Samuel 7:1-14a, Ephesians 2:11-22
Sermon "United we Stand, Divided we Fall"
In the 1600s a warship was built in Sweden called the Vasa. While there are many reasons that the ship proved not to be seaworthy, one of the most fascinating is based on measurement. Due to the size of the ship, two teams of workers from the Sweden and Amsterdam were used to build different parts of the ship. Archaeologists would latter discover that a Swedish "foot" was 12 inches and an Amsterdam "foot" was 11 inches. Because the two groups did not work together, no one discovered the difference and the instability that resulted until the maiden voyage when it began to list to one side and capsized. When we allow our prejudices to divide us and build walls that block communication, we soon find that we to are on a sinking ship.
This tendency to build walls and create reasons for division goes all the way back to the sons of Adam and Eve. Whether the issue is farming/ranching, hunting/gathering, city/rural, Jew/Gentile, slave/free, Capitalist/Communist, or Republican/Democrat humanity is always building walls of separation. Paul reminds the Ephesians that in Christ we are a new creation. A creation that is united in Christ. Those things which once were reasons for division are brought together in the Body of Christ. Unity is not conformity. As Paul points out to the Corinthians, there are many different gifts but only one Body. In Christ, diversity can still find unity just as in our Father's house there are many rooms. Through the Spirit, however, that diversity does not mean that we have to build walls.
Just as David thought about building a Temple for the ark of the covenant, we often build walls to both protect and contain. Walls we build to protect what we value often prevents that which we value from being its true self. Just as God can not be contained in a building built by human hands, freedom and love can not thrive unless the walls are removed. Throughout Christian history, revival has occurred when the Spirit is freed from restrictive doctrine and dogma that was intended to prevent heresy but ended up simply preventing the love of God from being experienced. Walls tend to create more brokenness because they prevent communication and civil interaction. God's reaction to David's attempt to wall God in a Temple was swift. After God reminded David that God is God and not David, God told David that God would build an eternal temple in which all would be blessed. For Paul, that temple is Jesus Christ.
When people encountered Jesus, they once again experienced God with them. Jesus not only brought physical healing but broke down the walls that prevented people from knowing and sharing the Father's love. Jesus could physically feel the pain of that brokenness when he was moved by "compassion". Even exhausted, Jesus continued to break down the walls that prevented God's love from being known. Jesus also knew that if the disciples did not go to a deserted place to be with God, they would soon start building walls. Sometimes we build walls around our own hearts because of the pain we feel in the world around us. That pain can bring on stress and depression. Walls are built when good meaning people experience compassion burnout. Jesus, however, showed his disciples that the only healthy way to deal with the pain is to give the pain over to God and then receive the healing love of God which could then be shared with others. Walls only create more blockage and pain. Daily walking with God allows us to be conduits through which pain is unburdened and love is poured out like a balm.
The walls we create, for good or for ill, will eventually capsized our ship unless we learn to find unity in Christ. Jesus is the one temple through which all love flows to anyone who enters by faith. The wall is gone. The door is open. Will you walk in today?