The Dividing Walls of Hostility
We are going through a period right now that is divisive and heated. The obvious flashpoints have been the pandemic and protests against racial injustice that unfortunately gave way to rioting, burning, looting, and violence. These are the flashpoints. But the undercurrents of the discord have been fermenting for quite some time.
When we reflect Biblically (theologically) we realize that sin is the cause of all division, animosity, and alienation. We see this chronicled in the narrative of our first parents in Genesis chapter three.
Adam and Eve failed to heed the one command given them. They were forbidden to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And they were warned that disobedience in this matter would result in death.
Giving in to temptation and failing to trust in God’s goodness and the reliability of His Word, Adam and Eve took the fatal bite.
Surprisingly, they did not drop dead immediately on the spot! But that did not mean they did not die. Theologically death is understood as a series of separations, until finally humans would return to the dust. First and foremost, humans became separated from God, the author and source of life. Then they experienced shame, a kind of separation happening against the wholeness within. Then in laying blame on each other, they experienced separation from each other. And finally they experienced a rupture in their fruitful relationship with the rest of creation.
The remedy and overcoming of these fatal divisions and separations could not be overcome by human attempts. It is our attempts apart from trust in God’s love and His Wisdom revealed in His Word that caused the divisions in the first place. No, only God Himself could overcome the divide with His Son’s death which atones for sin and makes possible forgiveness and the removal of sin. We read in Ephesians chapter two of how Christ alone can break down the dividing walls of hostility.
Since You Asked…
What good purpose is there in signing oneself (making the sign of the cross with the hand over one’s head and breast)?
This gesture’s main purpose is to remind us of our baptism where the sign of the cross was first made on our foreheads. The cross is a powerful symbol which reminds us of the depths of God’s love for us – He loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for us. In Holy Baptism we have been joined to Christ. Every time we sign ourselves we declare that we belong to Christ and that we desire to live for Him. We give visible expression that we serve the One, True God who has revealed Himself to us in three persons: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.