Ok… talk is cheap. Let’s start with another question:
What have you risked for a friend?
What friendship comes to your mind that you have taken a risk on? Did it pay off or cost you? Did it lead to fulfillment or heartbreak? True friendship is one of life’s greatest riches. However, a fading friendship can be a devastating force. Victor Hugo once said, “The Supreme happiness of life is the conviction of being loved for yourself, or more correctly, being loved in spite of yourself”. Like a child who fears going into a kitchen after having been burned by a hot stove, many people shut themselves off from relationships because they have been burned by them. When you add the walls that society erects to the equation, the problems grow exponentially.
Do you first view the people you see every day…
… as black, white, Hispanic, Asian (etc)?
… as male or female?
… as young or old?
… as a Yankee or a Southerner (for those of us in the United States)?
… as local or foreign?
… as wealthy, middle class, or poor?
Sadly, we in the church have our own “walls” list, on top of these I’ve mentioned…
… Baptist, Episcopal, Pentecostal, (etc).
… clean-cut or rough-around-the-edges.
… reserved or expressive.
… (musically) traditional or contemporary.
Subsequently, have we limited our vision to only those like us?
If we as Christians are going to follow the example of Jesus, we MUST set the societal and cultural biases aside, and tear down the walls that divide us.
When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well (John 4), in that one conversation, He crossed the borders of gender, society and race (Samaritan), religion, and morality in order to touch her heart.
When Jesus befriended Mary Magdalene, she had been previously demonized (Luke8:2). Mary went on to be one of His closest and most loyal friends. In fact, she was the last to leave Him at the cross, and the first to see Him at the tomb! Here was a woman who took risks to display her friendship, who was elevated by their friendship, and who was generous and unselfish in her expression of that friendship (Luke 7).
Stepping out from behind the walls we erect can be a scary proposition. It can also be among the most fulfilling in life. Taking a risk on another person is part of what makes life worthwhile, and if we are to live out God’s ideal for our lives, we must tear down the walls!
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. ~ Galatians 6:26-29
So, break out your emotional and spiritual sledge-hammers! What are the walls you are going to tear down today?