“Good Christian Men, Rejoice” is an old Christmas carol dating all the way back to the 14th century. Heinrich Suso was a German nobleman who decided to become a priest. During this time, the average person had little interest in theology, nor could they understand the readings of the Bible as they were done in Latin. Suso disagreed.
The story goes that he had a dream in which he was countless angels who were singing and dancing. In the dream, Suso eventually joined in, and when he awoke, he claimed to not only remember the dream but also the music and the words. He sat down and wrote “Good Christian Men, Rejoice.” It was a controversial act because during that time, music was not written in the language of the people. Nor was it particularly celebratory. Suso wanted a song that was simple enough for a child to understand; one that emphasized the joy that comes from communion with God in Christ.
Is the story true? Who knows, but the sentiment behind the song certainly is. It makes me think of a passage in Ephesians about walls. Verse 14 says:
“For He is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility.”
Before Christ, there were alot of walls. Some of them were physical and some were figurative. The physical walls were things like the wall that kept Gentiles from going deeper into the temple. The temple in Jerusalem was set up with barriers, preventing everyone but a select group of people from going further inside. Those barriers furthered the figurative barrier between Jews and Gentiles, creating the mindset that one group was closer, or more preferred, than the other.
But God isn’t a wall-builder; He’s a wall-breaker. That’s what Christ did. In one word, Christ provided access. That’s what verse 18 tells us:
“For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.”
And not just partial access, but access without restriction. Both groups. Anyone, through the Holy Spirit and the cross of Christ, has unhindered access to God. If feels like that should be a bigger word to me than it is.
But I have the question: If I have that kind of access, then why does my relationship with God still feel hindered sometimes? And the answer comes back: God doesn’t build walls. He tears them down. That’s what Christ did – He tore down the walls separating people from each other and those separating people from God.
That means any walls in my relationship with God aren’t put there by Him; they’re put there by me. Maybe you place them there as well. These are walls built on things like shame, guilt, insecurity, prayerlessness – these are all walls I build up. They are walls of my own making, not God’s. He granted access. And because He has given access, because in Christ heaven’s door has been opened to all who are willing to come, when we encounter a supposed wall, we don’t need to try and scale it.
That’s what we do sometimes – we try and scale these walls by our own effort. Our own holiness. Our own strength. As if we can prove to God that we actually do belong inside that heavenly door. And this is where the great irony comes again to us in the gospel, for there is nothing left to prove. God has already torn down the walls and opened the door. There is complete access, and all our feeble attempts to scale any walls we have put up inside that door result in even bigger ones.
No, we don’t need to scale walls because there aren’t any left. We must instead walk through these walls of our own making by faith, trusting that our passage through that door is not based on our own good but on what Jesus has done for us. And when we do, we will find ourselves, as the song says, rejoicing again and again.