Breaking dividing walls

 

The bible has been called many names, some say it is the absolute word of God containing all truths, whilsts some others say that it is "poisonous" and is harmful in reflection of the way that the bible has been mis-used to condemn GLBT people of faith. The bible perhaps is not meant to be read as a prescriptive religious book listing in order all the rules and laws required to go to heaven. It is a story book of a nation of Israel and ultimately about Jesus Christ and the 1st century Christians. The early Christians had to give up many of the Jewish laws that was really a foreshadow of Christ who was its reality. The law was a school master leading us to Christ to declaring us as sinners needing redemption not of our own works.

Our Christian faith is broken and divided by how we interpret the laws of the bible and treat the GLBT community when we should focus on our unity in Christ. For the early Christians, the insistence by some on following the Jewish laws were resulting in  dividing walls that threatened to limit the growth of Christianity to the Gentiles. This wall had to be broken down for Christianity to grow, just as we in the 21st century used the law against gays as a means to divide the Christian faith. There is a call to break down this ancient dividing wall that is quenching the move of the Holy Spirit in the Church of Jesus Christ.

(Acts 15:10 NKJV) "Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

Through the Law, Israel was to be a shining light of morality and would result in God's blessings upon Israel.  The Law was ultimately a separation of Israel from the violent religious systems and gods of the Cannanites. Many of its judgements were also without grace nor mercy and was impossible to bear. The nation of Israel never managed to escape from the hideous religious faith of Canaan, Babylon and Egypt, and was finally expelled to a foreign land. When Jesus, the Messiah came, they used the law to sentence Jesus to death, did not repent, and suffered their 2nd expulsion out of the promised land. 

Each time the Christian Right uses the letter of the law ie the strict interpretation of the clobber verses against gays irrespective of the ancient context of idol worshipping, they were actually proclaiming judgement on themselves by the rest of the statutes. ie when we condemned gays for failing one statute, we were actually condeming ourselves for failing the rest of the statutes. Secondly, as it was a false witness we are liable for the penalty we wanted to impose upon gays - ie the death penalty. It is a spiritual death that is coming upon the church as we become more self righteous and legalistic until the Holy Spirit is quenched.

Christians from the very beginning never followed the letter of a law as a requirement of Christian faith, yet we conveniently apply it to gays. We are testing God, testing His grace each time we come against the gay community. Our anti-gay crusade is bringing judgement upon Christianity itself. We will suffer a spiritual death where our conscience grows cold and people will judge us on how we treat the gay community rather than the Gospel good news.

Yet, some laws in the bible are not about judgement but gives a reflection of God's love and grace that break the dividing walls in society.

These laws were seldom followed by the ancient Jews nor by Christians then and today despite their assertions that the bible is the absolute word of God. These laws are contrary to the modern financial systems which results in classes of people - the haves and the have nots, and if implemeted would bring down the deep divides between the rich and poor, the powerful and the weak, which have ravaged many nations. 

1) Freedom from bondage through debt

(Deu 15:1-4 NKJV)  "At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. "And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the Lord's release. "Of a foreigner you may require it; but you shall give up your claim to what is owed by your brother, "except when there may be no poor among you; for the LORD will greatly bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance;

Deut 15:1-4 is a reflection of God's grace. We do not know of the circumstances of the debts but it could be a debt to buy a property, or could easily have been a debt accumulated over the past years just for the purpose of meeting the basic needs of survival and to have food on the table. It is grace, because it is giving something that is not earned or deserved. There is justice also in God's grace lest this commandment be abused by the rich, for there is an exception when "there is no poor amongst you", ie the person in debt have the means to easily re-pay the debt.

Deut 15:1-4 is also a reflection that God's grace extends especially to the people called by His name. This rule only applies to those within the Jewish family and is optional outside. It speaks of God's special and bountiful grace to those who are called by His name and who worship the God of Israel.  

Why are we giving up the right to collect the debt? because it is the "Lord's release" ie God is releasing them from the burden to repay, and God has this right because it is God who gives us the inheritance of the land in the first place that we might be able to lend. And God promises that good deeds of grace will never be short changed, that as we give out of grace, God will bless us in return.

If the debts of the poor in this world are being forgiven at one instance, what a different place it would be.

2) Freedom from poverty through sharing

(Deu 15:7-8 NKJV)  "If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother,   "but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs.

Deu 15:7-8 shows that God is a caring God of those under His care. The term "within our gates" perhaps reflect those that are within our vicinity, our neighbours, our relatives, our townsfolk, the people that are connected to us in one way or another. We are to be generous to willingly lend them for all their basic needs, for God is a God who cares.

Surprisingly, God did not ask us to give them, but to lend them indicating a responsibility for the receiver to be mindful of not treating God's grace in vain for there is always the possibility to returning what was lent within the 7 years. We are not to live in the goodwill of others.

In a country where we have become more materialistic of our own needs, this is a reminder for us to care and look out for the needs of others and to be generous for God is generous, and opens wide His gates of heaven to give us what we ask of Him. If God is not witholding His blessings on us, we should not withold our blessings on others. 

When we are our brothers keeper, when how the least in society, reflects the rest of society, when all are equal and enjoy freedom in having enough to eat, a home to live in, gainful work to do, and equal rights in how they are treated in society irrespective of their race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation, what a different place this world would be.

3) Basic justice and human rights cannot be denied

(Deu 24:14,15 NKJV)  "You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether one of your brethren or one of the aliens who is in your land within your gates. "Each day you shall give him his wages, and not let the sun go down on it, for he is poor and has set his heart on it; lest he cry out against you to the LORD, and it be sin to you.

In a country like Singapore where we have daily news of foreign workers being mistreated and not being paid their due wages in time, Deut 24:14-15 is a reminder that God is a God of justice especially for the poor and needy. We are not to witheld what is owned to them, for if we ill treat them, we have to answer to God forit, and it is a sin.

This law in particular applies to both aliens of the land and within the household of Israel, ie it is a universal law, and a basic rule of justice and rights, that we cannot deny people their basic rights especially the rights of rewards of what they have rightefully earned. This law goes beyond the Jewish people ie it must be applied irrespective across the divides of religion, race, culture, languages. ie we have no right to treat others badly just because they are different of us - be-it religion, or race for God is a Just God.

Similarly, we could not use the name of Christianity to limit the rights of GLBT peoples - whether their right of existence or same sex marriages. These rights are unalienable rights and are universal laws which preceeds religious rights to discriminate. Also, If the GLBT soldiers were willing to die for the country, why can't they have the basic rights of having their sexual orientation recognized and their gay marriages accepted! Terrible injustice cannot be justified or defended in the long run.

In conclusion, if we had truly apply all of God's laws, what a different scene in America would there be - there would have been no homeloan defauts, the poor would have been taken care, and the oppressed given justice and their basic rights.

God is calling us today to break down the dividing walls, that the love of Jesus Christ, His grace and mercy will fill us that we shall no more insist on our rights, rather to give others the benefits of doubt and to release them from our bondage and our condemnation.

When we break the dividing walls that have separated the christian church from the GLBT community, we will be blessed, the church will be blessed and will be changed from glory to glory.  The issue of gays rights have come to symbolise the dividing walls between the North and South of America, the conservatives and the liberals, between the east and west coast. America has become a divided nation, divided even within the Christian Faith beliefs.

The heart of God is for America to come back to unity, to be a body, a place of commanded blessing where the oil of annointed blessings flow when we are one. God is calling the church to be a body joined together in Jesus Christ alone.

 

Break dividing walls, Mark Robin

 Verse 1

There is a place of commanded blessing
Where brethren in unity dwell
A place where anointing oil is flowing
And we live as one

You have called us to be a body
You have called us as friends
Joined together in the bond of the Spirit
Unto the end

Father we join with the prayer of Jesus
As you are so let us be one
Joined together in unity and purpose
All for the love of your son

Chorus

We will break dividing walls
We will break dividing walls
We will break dividing walls in the name of your Son
We will break dividing walls
We will break dividing walls and we will be one

Verse 2

Between the North and the South
Between the East and the West
Those walls they are coming down

Between the black and the White
Between the orange and the green
Those walls are coming down

Chorus

Verse 3

Between Fathers and Sons,
Between the Brothers and Sisters
Those walls are coming down

Between the young and the old
and traditions grow cold
Those walls are coming down

 

 

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