Thursday, May 19, 2011


Have you noticed how easy it is for us to build walls? It's amazing, isn't it, the obvious and subtle ways we use to decide who's in and who's out. It's a way of propping ourselves up, I guess, because if someone is lesser, then we must be better. I like this excerpt from Desiderata by Max Ehrmann:
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

A more appropriate outlook would be to seek to see each person as God's creation, loved by God and of equal worth.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned Romans 12:3.
The writer goes on to remind us that as Christians we are all part of the body of Christ with different gifts and functions. We all matter. We are enjoined to love each other.

Can we truly love when we erect barriers? They are often subtle, these markers we put to decide people's worth. Sometimes they are such a part of our society, often subtle, that we don't really notice them. Dr F. Douglas Powe, jr points some of them out to us as he talks about how we can hear the voice of the neighbor from the other side:
In many American cities geographical markers divide races and/or economic classes. For example, railroad tracks, streets, and rivers are common markers that serve as dividing lines. To make matters worse gentrification and re-gentrification are creating drive-in churches in many major cities (Powe 2008, 93).
This quotation identifies the physical ways in which we are divided in this society. Are we aware of them? And if yes, what are we doing about them? If we are part of a drive-in church and do ourselves drive in, do we even see the people who live around the church? How do we see them?

Why do we need markers that divide us from each other? Which markers do you observe? Observe as in notice and participate in. Which markers do our students observe? How do we push past these to express our love for God in love of neighbor?

Powe, F. Douglas. "Hearing the Voice of Our Neighbor From the Otherside." In Loving God, Loving God, Loving Neighbor: Ministry With Searching Youth, 93-107. XLibris, 2008.
Loving God, Loving Neighbor


  1. Probably the "walls" I most noticed in our neighborhood are the ones created by stairs. I would say 99% of the homes in my neighborhood require you to have legs that work in order to get into them. What does that say about loving those in wheel chairs? Or those with mobility difficulties?

  2. Thanks for raising this. It is a barrier we can easily overlook. Your comment reinforces for me that we always have to be asking who is included, who is excluded and be thinking of ways to enlarge our circle. I think we need to ask these questions particularly of established patters.