Grains of Sand

by Sam Stinson

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility" (Ephesians 2:13-16).

A popular contemporary wedding tradition is the sand ceremony. A speaker, usually the officiant of the wedding, points out two glass jars that are filled to the brim with sand. The two vessels each respectively represent the lives of the bride and the groom. A third vessel, empty, sits in between these. The speaker pours the two vessels of sand together into the empty vessel, filling it. Just as now it would be impossible to separate the individual grains of sand back into their original vessels, so now the lives of these two are forever joined in one vessel, the covenant of marriage. When one tries to separate what God has joined, one faces a seemingly impossible task. Throughout Scripture, the imagery of sand appears, as the multitude of stars in the heavens, to demonstrate that which seems infinite in number: God's people are represented as these grains. God blessed Abraham saying, "I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies" (Genesis 22:17). Solomon's breadth of mind given to him by God was deemed uncountable as the grains of sand on a beach (I King 4:29).

In Christ, we are each joined one to another. Our lives are added by God in a holy union under Christ's covenant, a new covenant in our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33). In Scripture, there was a time when some were excluded from God's priesthood as unclean since their lineage to Aaron or Levi could not be confirmed (Ezra 2:62; Nehemiah 7:64). But now there is no special priesthood, no distinction: all who are in Christ are chosen (Revelation 1:6). As Paul explained to the Ephesians, both Jews and Gentiles are brought together in one vessel, in one Lord. Those in Christ no longer face a dividing wall of hostility separating East Berlin from West Berlin because Jews who are in Christ died to the law of commandments that separated the Jews from the Gentiles by design, as Peter was commanded to no longer call common what God has made clean (Acts 10:15; 11:9; cf. Leviticus 10:10).

But what of those today who attempt to make factions among God's grains along racial, cultural, or familial lines? Let him consider: "A stone is heavy, and sand is weighty, but a fool's provocation is heavier than both" (Proverbs 27:3).

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