Breaking Down Barriers

wreckingballI enjoy a good demolition project, tearing down walls, smashing things with a sledge hammer, prying, pulling and incinerating the consequent debris. Sometimes I like to dream big, on a much larger demolition scale I was thinking about a wrecking ball. I would love to sit in the operator’s seat of one of these wrecking machines, my hands controlling the swinging action of the massive ball of forged steel as it smashes through concrete, steel, and any other obstacles in its path. A ten-thousand-pound ball of steel has the potential to bring even the strongest barrier to the ground.

Paul’s letter to Philemon describes a different process of breaking down barriers, barriers that rise up in our personal relationships. Much like in Paul’s time, these barriers might include social or economic status, heritage, or even geographic location. Paul writes a very personal letter to Philemon in respect to a mutual acquaintance, a man named Onesimus who was a run-away slave from the house of Philemon. The barriers I am talking about in relationships are broken down by love, a love that is found through the power and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our relationship with Christ. There is a “bond among brothers” in this letter. Paul calls for the barriers of social status (Philemon as master and Onesimus as slave) to be disbanded, “welcome him as you would welcome me… no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother”, brothers in Christ. If you read through this short letter you will find some great insight into what a God honouring relationship looks like, you will see love, trust, respect, confidence and most importantly, Christ.

Brothers and sisters in Christ loving one another without judgement and without fear, that is a beautiful picture that I hope to see one day. The foundations of the barriers that get in the way of authentic Christ centred relationships are made up of the things of this world, things that focus on us. Exemplified through the life and death of Jesus Christ, the foundations of all our relationships need to be built with one key ingredient, love. Our first love should be for Christ and in the knowledge of Christ’s love for us, when that shines through so then will our love for others. Lives are transformed by love, we don’t need wrecking balls to remove barriers, we need the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome them.


Tangle of colorful electric wires and cablesNot that long ago I was trying to figure out an electrical problem with my tent trailer. Usually I am pretty handy at fixing things but when it comes to electrical issues and wiring connections, I get lost easily. As I opened the access panel to the electrical system there were blue, green, black, red and yellow wires stretching in every direction. It was a mess and I didn’t stand a chance. Each wire, each connection had a purpose in the function of the working of the trailer, it is through this lens that I read through the book of Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy is one of those books in the Bible that have an array of connections and references that “cross borders” within the other Old Testament books and continue right into a number of books in the New Testament. The book of Deuteronomy is quoted over 80 times in the new testament and 365 times in the later Old Testament books, that is a lot of connections. The next generation of believers in Israel at that time were perched at the doorstep to the promise land. Through Moses, God calls the people back to the commitment of living within the guidelines of the law. It was a call to listen and obey his commands so that they may live to see the fulfillment of His promise. God’s promises never fail.

The law God set before his people then and the way we are called today reflect His desire to be in relationship with us. Our God pours out His love into our lives and in return wants us to love Him back. Through God’s divine plan, He uses the life and times of the Israelites to connect us with an example of how to live in a relationship with Him. Like the Israelites, our faith comes with highs and lows and that inevitably puts distance in our relationship with Him. I would challenge anyone who reads the first five books of the Bible and can’t see that God desires a relationship with his people. From the very minute God created Adam till this moment in time and beyond, God will continue to pursue a loving personal relationship with all His people, for this I am thankful.