Walls and Fences

Read: Ephesians 2:14-22

Earlier this month at the Mennonite Convention in Phoenix the whole concept of tearing down walls and making peace between people was one of the main themes. In fact this passage from Ephesians 2 was one of the focus passages that was used.

It talks about how Jesus came and “his purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace.” It goes on to say that true reconciliation is possible through Christ who is our chief cornerstone.

Reconciliation is often hard to come by. We hear cases like this in the news all the time. Recently it has been the Martin-Zimmerman case in Florida, sometimes it is the Israel-Palestine situation, and as each week passes there seems to be something else in the news that depicts wall, fences, and misunderstandings between people.

In fact, we don’t have to turn on the news, we often can just look at our own relationships. Unfortunately we do a pretty good job ourselves of wall and fence building. It reminds me of the story about two farmers from Alberta, Canada.

In Alberta you can find two parallel fences, only two feet apart, running for a half mile. Why are there two fences when one would do? Well, this is where Paul and Oscar come in. These two farmers had a disagreement that erupted into a longstanding feud.

Paul wanted to build a fence between their land and split the cost, but Oscar was unwilling to contribute. Since he wanted to keep cattle on his land, Paul went ahead and built the fence anyway. After the fence was completed, Oscar said to Paul, “I see we have a fence.”

“What do you mean ‘we’?” Paul replied. “I got the property line surveyed and built the fence two feet into my land. That means some of my land is outside the fence. And if any of your cows sets foot on my land, I’ll shoot it.”

Oscar knew Paul wasn’t joking, so when he eventually decided to use the land adjoining Paul’s for pasture, he was forced to build another fence, two feet away. Oscar and Paul are both gone now, but their double fence stands as an unfortunate monument to the high price we pay for stubbornness.

You see, Christ came not only destroy the wall of sin that separates us from God, he also came to show us how to reconcile our differences with each other. When we place reconciliation above our own selfish preferences we learn to find peace and contentment with each other. Jew, Gentile, and whatever other differences are represented.

Let’s live by Christ’s example and work at tearing down the walls and fences that keep us divided and opposing each other. Let’s work at peace, reconciliation, and loving our neighbor as ourselves.

Make it personal: Who comes to mind when you think of walls and fences? Make an effort this week at taking those down and moving towards common ground. Read the Ephesians 2 passage and others that give testimony of the Jesus way.

Have a great week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church