The big wide world has created too many ways to divide us. From the time we can form ideas, we feel pressured to choose sides in battles we haven’t even signed up to fight. There are debates incessantly on all forms of social media followed by irrational shock and outrage at opposing points of views, as if we expected the debate to bring all thinking, responsible people to our side. It villifies people, distances us from community and worse, it keeps us from sharing Christ and the hope of the gospel because we are too tied up arguing about gorilla’s or breast feeding or politics or a million other things.
Tonight I struck up a conversation with two complete strangers as we sat at dinner, worn out by a long day of orientation for our soon to be college freshman kids. It took no time for the three of us to start sharing stories about senior year; discussing the strange process of letting go. It did not matter in that moment our differences, though I am certain they were many. What struck me and impressed me was how our commonality was able to lead us to a moment of togetherness and support and encouragement, albeit fleeting.
I am amazed sometimes we can still function as people with the ever growing gap of meaningful relationships. Community has become a frayed and tattered shell of it’s original glory. In the Beginning, there was perfect relationship. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit- distinctly different in roles, yet each delighting in the other- supporting and loving. No competition. No jealousy. No fear. I watch those three traits pull us apart, myself included. Where community could be life giving and supportive, we back away in self protection and self promotion. Our broken commonality becomes the distance from which we can no longer see our beautiful sameness.
So how we do we kill these ugly tendencies that come from our broken hearts and world? We press into the perfect life giving community offered in Christ! He, who being in very nature God, humbled himself to come down and join us in our brokenness (Philippians 2). He spared no part of himself, but became vulnerable, self sacrificing and the truest friend we will ever have, as he laid down his life to restore our broken hearts. Nothing else will free us to risk and trust and love others fully, like knowing we are fully loved!
After that, we push back in the upside down way God’s Kingdom always works. You want to kill competition and jealousy? Celebrate others success! You want to get rid of fear? Love with reckless abandon! Give of yourself in generous and humble ways- it frees your heart from the relentless quest to satisfy self and allows you to be fearless. You know what is more beautiful than the all majesty and grandeur of God we see in mountains and oceans and galaxies? Humble sacrifice. While God’s majesty is important and powerful, the most important attribute of God is His love. And the best picture of love we see is Jesus humbling himself to come and die for us. The King becomes slave, so the slaves can go free. The powerful becomes weak, so the weak can become powerful lights.
We feel echos of this every time a strong man gently holds a crying small child, or a young teenager stops to show kindness to an older, slower person. We know the way pictures of sacrifice move us, but we will never embrace that for ourselves unless we first embrace the sacrifice on our behalf. Only then are we fully able to take down dividing fences, constructed to protect our image, money, status, ideas and open our hearts to sacrifice for those who are different than we are. Only then can we see how very much the same we are- created in God’s image, all of us. Loved and valued by God, every single one. Desperately in need to healing and hope outside ourselves, all humanity. Once we see our sameness, the divisions our world constructs seem paper thin and easily removed.