My son found this interesting written piece taken from the 1978 Pasadena Consultation on Homogeneous Units from the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelism:
… the dividing wall, which Jesus Christ abolished by his death, was echthra, “enmity” or “hostility.” All forms of hatred, scorn, and disrespect between Christians of different backgrounds are forbidden, being totally incompatible with Christ’s reconciling work. But we must go further than this. The wall dividing Jew from Gentile was not only their active reciprocal hatred; it was also their racial and religious alienation symbolized by “the law of commandments and ordinances.” This, too, Jesus abolished, in order to “create in himself one new man in place of two, so making peace” (Eph. 2:15).
The list of those who met in the consultation include a list of then distinguished theologians (John Stott, Peter Wagner, Ralph Winter, etc.). You need to know that my son works directly with the poor in Edmonton and wrestles with why the church is slow to meaningfully encounter the poor themselves or welcome them into worship services. Most church goers seem to give to a church budget and expect that their church is doing something for the poor somewhere, feeling comfortable with that as long as they do not have to touch, smell, hear or mingle with the poor themselves. He has an excellent concern, however in my role I wrestle with how ‘hostility’ divides the Christian community over entrenched theological positions. Even though we might readily acknowledge that in heaven we’ll be rubbing shoulders with those we’ve put down or shunned here on earth, we put up our own walls of separation. Peter was forced by Paul to integrate with the Gentiles in Galatians 2.
The paper itself expresses how we are all in some sort of sub-culture. It is natural to support our own position of perceived correctness and importance. Our white Western culture has taught, though not necessarily intentionally, that ‘being right’ is more important than ‘doing right’. This is a judgment the younger generation is making of the Evangelical church today … with some level of justification. We have generally stayed away from things that might taint us or make us uncomfortable.
We almost never apologize but we easily justify our past and present actions. We would rather not take time to apologize for looking the other way for the mistreatment of the indigenous, neglecting of the poor, or ignoring deserved equal rights treatment of women or the LGBT. I’m not saying every aspect of every special interest group deserves our respectful attention. I know I’ll never be a vegan or match their values, but vegans deserve my respect and they should respect me too. Perhaps there are even vegan Christians.
Jesus brought down a wall. I know the theology of that, but there is some practical application of this for which I need to pay attention. Perhaps the lack of evangelism effort is due to the walls we ourselves have created. Perhaps our own silo is leaking … and perhaps it should.
Your co-worker, Dennis