Walls divide nations, cultures, families and individuals. For twenty-eight years the people of East and West Berlin were separated by a physical wall. In India, the border with Pakistan separates two nations that once were one. North and South Korea are divided by a demilitarized zone that is the most heavily fortified border in the world. The physical walls built between nations and cities reflect deep fractures within humanity. Such fragmentation and alienation is evident at every scale of human existence and in every time period.

In New Testament times the Jewish priesthood tried to separate themselves from the nations and create an exclusive faith community. However, in doing this they violated their call to be a blessing to the nations (Gen 12:3) and a house of prayer for all nations (Is 56:1-7). Instead they built physical, cultural and mental walls that prevented other nations finding God. A physical symbol of this xenophobic attitude at the time of Christ was a low 1.5 metre high partition that separated King Herod’s temple in Jerusalem from the large outer court that surrounded the temple. Only Jewish people could enter the temple. The outer court was the court of the Gentiles. Inscribed in pillars on the partition wall was an edict that banned foreigners from entering the temple courts under the threat of death. It is this wall that Paul is talking about in Ephesians when he writes:

Eph 2:13-16 (NIV) 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.14For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

Drawing on the symbolic picture of Herod’s temple, Paul is making the bold statement that in and through Christ it is possible to break down the walls that separate family from family and nation from nation and find true peace. Jew and Gentile are one in Christ.

Christ is both peacemaker and wall breaker, and as his people we should be too. We are Christ’s body called to preach the good news of God’s peace across every cultural and social barrier, to every nation and every strata of society. Our feet are prepared with the gospel of peace (Eph 6:15). We are to go and seek out people of peace (Lk 10:6) and the peace of the city (Jer 11:19). Preaching the gospel is likened to a message bearer running down the mountain to a city to bring news of peace (Rm 10:15). The biblical concept of peace (Shalom) is not just a state of mind, nor is it simply the absence of conflict or the opposite of war. Biblical peace is the wholeness, completeness and well-being that comes about through restored relationship. It requires the active process of breaking down the walls that separate people from God, community from community and nation from nation.

Throughout history Christians have responded to a missionary call to be peacemakers and wall breakers. Many have crossed barriers of culture, politics and race and paid a high price to bring about reconciliation with God and within communities. In some cases they too have given their lives as peacemakers as Christ did on the Cross. Missional churches also need to be peacemakers and wall breakers. Not all of us can directly be involved in long-term cross-cultural missions. But we can all be involved in some way through the corporate mission of our local churches. Together, through our local church, we can become active partners in fulfilling the church’s responsibility to impact other nations as peacemakers.

World Impact is the cross-cultural mission’s ministry of CityLife Church. Our World Impact mission is to plant and empower churches across cultures to impact unreached people for the Kingdom of God. As a church, we are planting and empowering churches in nations and regions that have been torn apart by violence, poverty, religious conflict and prejudice. During World Impact Week in May this year, we particularly focused on our church planting ministries in Ethiopia and India. By 2010 our vision has been to plant a multicultural urban church in ethnically diverse Ethiopia. Paulos Djini, who leads this church, has been with us over World Impact Week. He talked about the ways our church in Addis Ababa is proclaiming peace in that nation. We also have a vision to build a network of urban churches in North India. James Chacko, who also spoke to us over World Impact Week, has just planted a church in the city of Chandigarh. In both these nations we are seeking the peace of key cities by planting churches that have a message of hope for the issues of race, caste, social unrest and religion that continue to fracture these nations.

Some practical ways we can be involved in partnering with World Impact are:

Preparation: Become informed about the issues of division, violence and fragmentation that are impacting our world.

Prayer: Pray for those in authority in the nations we work so our missionary partners can live a peaceable life with open doors to church planting, evangelism and outreach.

Presence: Go on a short term team. Through some of our short-term teams you can go and be present in a broken community, hear first-hand about what is happening, and spend time ministering alongside our missionary partners.

Proclamation: The world is changing. Different cultures are coming to our doorstep. Each of us can take a step to cross a cultural barrier and talk to people of a different background.

Provision: In Febuary 2010 Australia was ranked second in the world for its quality of life. We are a blessed nation with resources others do not have. Through our financial giving we can partner with others working as peacemakers and wall breakers.

Questions for Group Discussion
• What walls have you experienced that divide families, communities and nations?
• How did the early church respond to the walls dividing Jew from Gentile and nation from nation and become peacemakers?
• What practical ways can you as an individual be a peacemaker and a wall breaker?
• How does the missionary your life group has adopted (or are considering adopting) act as a peacemaker and wall-breaker in their community and nation?
• How can you as a Life Group support the World Impact ministry of CityLife Church? Consider some of the suggestions in the Life Group leader’s handbook.

• Distribute the latest report from the missionary you have adopted as a group.
• Obtain information from the CityLife Website or from the World Impact Department on a missionary you are considering adopting. Share this with your group.
• Spend time praying for that missionary and the region in which they minister. Particularly focus on being an instrument of God’s peace in that nation.

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