The images of the Berlin Wall are hard to forget. Those of us who were alive during the Cold War remember many desperate people from East Berlin losing their lives trying to overcome this barrier to freedom.
Have you ever thought about the seemingly insurmountable barriers God overcame to show His love to us so we might be free? We may never comprehend the depth of humility exhibited by the life and death of the Son of God (Phil. 2:5-8).
He was not afraid to offend the religious people of His day who cared more for their traditions than people.
The Lord Jesus is our perfect example of tearing down walls to reach people. No one was off limits for Him. He hung out with “sinners.” He touched lepers. He was not ashamed when prostitutes publicly expressed their gratitude for Him. He crossed racial and social barriers to have a conversation with a woman at a well even though her neighbors knew her to be immoral. He wasn’t ashamed to have uneducated, blue-collar men and a hated tax-collector among His inner circle of friends. And He was not afraid to offend the religious people of His day who cared more for their traditions than people.
How different we are today.
From my experience, most faithful church members don’t have meaningful, caring relationships with people who don’t know Christ. They don’t know how to talk to young adults who may have never had a Bible in their home.
Many church members would find it easier to lecture younger adults on politics and preferences than to take time to get to know them.
What we church members know how to do is shake our heads and pontificate about the sad state of younger generations. We are good at analyzing and criticizing the way people dress, the music they like, their political views, their body piercings, and their tattoos.
I truly believe many church members would find it easier to lecture younger adults on politics and preferences than to take time to get to know them.
Are we really too busy to sit down with people different from us and ask them about their hopes and dreams over a cup of coffee? Are we too proud to risk being embarrassed by our lack of knowledge of technology? Could it be we are afraid of what our friends would say if we attended a neighbor’s cookout where everyone had a beer in their hands?
These are just some barriers keeping us from connecting with others. Besides generational differences, other walls separating us from people include race, income, education, and politics.
The Bible many of us hold dear is full of examples of God’s people overcoming barriers and tearing down walls to connect with outsiders.
The Bible many of us hold dear is full of examples of God’s people overcoming barriers and tearing down walls to connect with outsiders. God told Abram he would bless him so that he would be a blessing to “all peoples on earth”(Gen. 12:1-3 Emphasis mine).
God blessed Abram so he would be a blessing. Do we think God has mercifully blessed us because He loves us more than others? We would never admit it but by our condescension, we expose a self-centered lack of love for others.
All too often this lack of love is on full display in our churches.
You know it has gotten bad when God’s people can’t even get along with one another. Tragically, I see numerous examples and hear countless stories of fellow believers who build walls between themselves and other Christ-followers over personal, petty, non-essential matters that undermine the mission and purpose of the church.
On June 12, 1987, at the Brandenburg Gate of the Berlin Wall in West Germany, President Ronald Reagan gave a speech with the immortal line, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
East Germany did not erect the Berlin Wall to protect its people from invading armies, terrorists or even an influx of criminals. They built it to keep people in East Germany. On one side was cruel communist oppression. On the other side was freedom.
These walls only protect our pride and prevent others from enjoying the freedom of a meaningful relationship with Christ.
The “walls” we build separating us from people who are different are not protecting us or the doctrines we hold dear. These walls only protect our pride and prevent others from enjoying the freedom of a meaningful relationship with Christ.
Christ Jesus overcame unimaginable barriers to save us. What would He say to His people about our fear of people different from us?
I can imagine Him saying, “Tear down this wall!”
P. S. I hope if you are in the Upstate you will join us on Sunday for this new series, “Becoming a Church Without Walls.”