Some Christians really make me mad. Westboro and the like notwithstanding, very nearly on a daily basis, my Facebook newsfeed contains at least one heartbreaking self-righteous spewing from someone’s fingertips and I daresay it often comes from people I would in fact call a friend. But it still hurts. Or maybe it hurts even more because of our friendship. I’m not sure.
What I do know is how infrequently we see Jesus himself spewing. (I love the word spew – it’s so gross and perfect.) His words always seemed tempered and on the chill side. Especially toward those who seemed to never be shown compassion or kindness by society at large and were well accustomed to spewing.
Who did he yell at? The religious. The people who were quick to judge him and everyone else around him. The ones who fought amongst themselves, jockeying for power and position and their rights. The ones who marginalized anyone not like them. The ones who refused to be humble and admit they could be wrong – not even just being wrong, but the very idea of it. The ones who built up the walls and manned the gates and kept watchers posted to annihilate anyone who dare question the very existence of a wall that keeps people apart.
There’s a line from a Frost poem, “good fences make good neighbors.” We want boundaries. We want defined spaces. We think we need labels and boxes to put them on. Could you imagine a world that had none of these? A world filled with humans – just “humans” – no subcategories, no hierarchy, no power overtly or covertly assigned. There’s no magic words to open the gates of the city; we all rightfully belong here.
All I know is I don’t want to be a brick in the wall. I don’t want to be responsible for stopping people and turning them away. I want to be a gate. I want them to want to come in to the place I know and have full confidence in – the place I know they belong and the only reason they don’t want any part of it is because of the monstrous wall between us that we have made impossible to scale unless you follow our rules and look and act just like us. I see time and again Christians building more layers of bricks keeping our city impenetrable to the very ones who so desperately need it most, making it ever more difficult to see the beauty of inside the wall.
But then I realize, even Jesus isn’t inside that wall. Jesus stands at the gate. His love and sacrifice IS the gate, pleading with the passers by to come home. I don’t want to be the one in the way of the gate, the one adding brick and mortar. I want to be the one pointing the way to the gate and removing bricks that block the view to the kingdom within. The wall is sin and pride. The wall keeps us from each other and from true peace. The wall has so many more layers, constructed by mankind, keeping others from grace. Stop building walls. Hang out at the gate.