13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 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, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. — Ephesians 2:13-16
I have always loved this passage in Ephesians 2. It is a beautiful picture of what God did in the church in Ephesus and what God does in the church today. The Jewish and Gentile people were separated by what Paul called a dividing wall of hostility.
I can’t read these words without thinking of the people of Lebanon. Lebanon is a beautiful country, and the Lebanese are a diverse people, but this diversity is not always as it may seem.
The people of Lebanon are extremely divided. With significant portions of the population adhering to both Sunni and Shia Islam, alongside multiple Christian sects, the largest of which are Maronite Christians, a branch of Catholicism unique to this region of the world, and even the Druze, an offshoot of Islam that has been present in the Middle East for centuries. This is just among Lebanese citizens, not to mention the visiting refugees from Syria and Palestine.
These divisions have grown over the years into large, impenetrable dividing walls. It has caused civil wars, corrupt governments and most recently, an economic collapse. To see Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians, from Maronite, Sunni and Shia families all gathered together, loving one another as brothers and sisters, would be unthinkable.
But nothing is impossible with Christ. Just as the blood of Christ made the two groups in Ephesus into one new man, he has done the same in a little church in Lebanon. In Christ, the dividing wall of hostility has been broken down. Men who a few years earlier would have considered one another enemies today gather together to study the word of God and care for one another’s needs. Hate has been transformed into love. The dividing wall of hostility is destroyed in the flesh of Jesus Christ.
Two of these men are Laith and Ali. Laith is Palestinian from a Sunni Muslim background. As a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon, he grew up resenting his Lebanese neighbors, who often treated him and his family as second class, as well as the Lebanese system that prevented him from receiving certain human rights and social benefits. But as he came to know Jesus, he has testified of the community he has found among Lebanese and proudly worships alongside his Lebanese brothers and sisters. Together they are one in Christ.
Ali grew up in a Lebanese Shia family. He was devout to his sect as much as to his faith. He even put his life on the line fighting on behalf of his party in neighboring Syria. But now, as a follower of Jesus Christ, he has left the political divisiveness and worships and learns alongside brothers and sisters from Syria and even an American family, formerly considered the enemy. In Christ, the dividing walls of hostility are broken down. The region continues to build the walls up, using hatred to wage war, but Christ in his flesh kills the hostility and makes peace.
One of my greatest joys over the past few years has been witnessing the growth and formation of this Ephesians 2 church. At Converge International Ministries, we are asking God for a gospel movement among every least-reached people group—in our generation. God has brought together new believers from multiple unreached people groups and gathered them together in one place.
The next step is to mobilize these believers to be movement catalysts to further break down walls of hostility in the Middle East. As Paul reminded us, in Christ, hostility cannot exist; it has been killed by reconciliation. In Christ, nothing is impossible. Muslim, Christian, Sunni, Shia, Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian all become one in Christ.
Help reach Muslims in the Middle East with the love and message of Jesus Christ.
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