Something There Is That Doesn't Love A Wall
I spent the last three days of this week honing my leadership skills and learning some new ones with a group of lead pastors from around the country (and one from Canada).
I was the only Presbyterian in a room full of non-denominational, Pentecostal and Baptist leaders, which was a bit outside of my comfort zone.
Whatever our theological differences might have been, however, we didn't dwell on them. Every single one of us in the room was after the same thing: We wanted to be better pastors and leaders--for the purpose of sharing the Good News with a world that needs to hear a word of hope.
Every so often I find myself grieving over the seemingly hopeless divisions between Christian groups, churches, and denominations. And sometimes my grief turns to anger, and my anger leads me to create barriers.
The walls that have been up between Christians have done very little to advance the kingdom of God, which was the focus of Jesus life and ministry, and the task he gave to his followers. Yet, we continue to put them up with little thought of how they hurt those who should be our sisters and brothers.
It reminds me of the line from Robert Frost's wonderful poem "Mending Wall:"
Before I build a wall I'd ask to knowI have grown tired of being part of the problem. That's why I sought out a cohort group that was outside of my tribe.
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Was it difficult sometimes to listen when the conversations turned toward things that stirred up my feelings of grief and anger? Sure, but if I am not willing to offer the gift of listening, how can I expect to be heard when I choose to speak?
If we are going to be Resurrection People, we need to live as though Jesus has risen. And I'm guessing that Jesus wouldn't be all that thrilled about the petty squabbles or the walls between his followers.
Starting today, allow yourself to be taught by someone who doesn't share your ideas on faith. Find friends who are outside of your Christian tribe and listen to their stories. Through kindness and gentleness earn the right to be heard in your own right.
And in so doing, begin tearing down the walls that obscure the light of Christ.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.