Walls are typically built for protection. Nehemiah, in the Old Testament, leads a huge undertaking in rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. The Great Wall of China was built to protect dynasties from invasions by surrounding tribes. We build fences around our yards to prevent the neighbor’s pets from trampling our lawns. Emotional walls are produced to protect ourselves from getting hurt by others.
Walls are protective.
Expect when walls are restrictive.
Ray Buckley, in his Lenten study, Hard to Dance with the Devil on Your Back, writes about the restrictive walls we create. Walls are constructed out of hate, fear, or prejudices. They are built out of a great concern for ourselves, not for others. Bricks are assembled from pride, envy, or anger.
Walls keep others out.
These hindrances keep out others based on their skin color, their age, economic levels, their size, their political preferences, their lifestyles, their denominations, their decisions, and the list goes on.
“The Lord of the Dance,” Buckley writes, “does not live within the walls we create.” Christ does not live in these places, because “the death he died, he died to sin, once for all” (Romans 6:10).
The grace and love that Jesus Christ offers are for all people.
Republican and the Democrat. Progressive and traditionalist.
Young and old. Dog lovers and cat lovers.
Black and white. Asian and Hispanic.
Male and female. Gay and straight.
Immigrant and citizen.
Our walls keep others out. Christ has no walls.
These seemingly “disposable” souls may go unnoticed by us, but they are missed by Christ. Their voices are lost in the communal praises being lifted high.
In Jesus’ time, children were considered valueless or worthless. They were quite literally disposable. Buckley argues, when Jesus welcomes the children to him, he is saying that the disposed or the valueless are important to him – including children. This is what Buckley writes:
“Jesus says, in essence, ‘Give up what you think you deserve and ought to have, and be like one of these.’ We are being asked to be childlike, to give up status, place, and value.”
We are being asked to give up our walls.
Take down a couple of bricks and gaze upon the image of God found in that “other” person. And while you gaze, get an eye full of the image of God in your neighbor who lives in poor conditions. Maybe take a good look at the image of God in that liberal or conservative who drives you nuts.
Most of all admire the image of God in those who are different from you.
So, as followers of Christ – as the Church – is it our place to break down these walls and welcome all to the table of grace.
“Love recognizes no barriers,” Maya Angelou once wrote. “It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”