“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing garden fence of hostility”
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Will house-hold church work in the suburbs?
Some suggest not, because the culture in the suburbs does not fit in with it.
House-hold church encourages people to be in and out of each others houses, eating together and so on. It’s about community that is built around relationships.

But suburbs don’t seem to work that way.
People are involved in ‘communities’, but they tend not to be our local community. Instead people have a community centered around the gym, another around a pub, another around a sports team and so on. These are communities built on general interest, rather than location. Our ‘local’ communities in the ‘burbs tends to be anything but a community. We build fences around our gardens and houses so that others can’t see in, but not too high so there’s still enough light for the plants.
But does this not reflect the insipid individualism of the West? And is the individualism of the West not merely our desire for self-rule left to run riot?

In the culture of Paul’s day a Jew would never have gone to dinner with a Gentile. But Paul says the gospel turns that on it’s head. Jesus hasn’t just come to save you as an individual. He has come to rescue people to become his people, a nation, a household even (Ephesians 2). This means that it doesn’t matter what your national identity is, it doesn’t matter what the cultural norms are for your people group, you are now part of the people of God. This gospel challenges cultural norms and replaces them with new ones. Not western ones as some missionaries of old seemed to think, but biblical ones. Cultural norms that put the welfare of the other person as number one. Cultural norms that say it is all about God’s glory, rather than being all about you and what you want.
For the Jews of Paul’s day this must have been mindblowing. There was even a physical wall built in the Temple that illustrated this divide between Jew and Gentile. But Paul says that this wall has been torn down (Eph 2:14).

Is it not time that our ‘dividing garden fences of hostility’ are torn down?
The gospel challenges culture. When culture says that your life is all about you, that your house is your castle, and that you are lord of that castle, the gospel changes it. The gospel says that your life is all about God’s glory. The gospel says that your house, like everything in your life is to be used for God’s glory, and that the Lord of your castle is the Lord Jesus Christ (see the ‘house’ imagery of Ephesians 2).

This is not to say that we must barge into people’s homes and force them to put a meal on for us!
But we can offer an alternative society to people.
Maybe we should pull down our high fences and display the inclusivity of the gospel. Maybe we should start opening our homes to others to illustrate that God has included us in his household though we were once excluded.
People may find it strange at first. But of course they will. The ‘culture’ of the gospel is as different to the world around us as light is to darkness (Ephesians 5:8).

Perhaps it’s time to pull down our barriers so that light shines not only on our garden plants, but on the people around us.

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