And though it’s always been with me
I must tear down the wall and let it be
All I am
And all that I was ever meant to be
And smiling back at all who wait to cross
There is no loss
By Kerry Livgren
I had an uncle named Herbert. He was an uncle by marriage and was the husband of one of my Grandma’s twin sisters. Grandma’s twin sisters lived in California for as long as I can remember.
Since they didn’t live right around the corner, their trips to visit us here in Missouri were kind of a treat. I really enjoyed when Grandma’s sisters were both there. It was fun to try and tell them apart.
They were identical twins. I’ve always been amazed that two people can be so much alike.
But, this is about Herbert.
After I went to my first or second year of bible college, before I dropped out and set myself up as my own God, Herbert and I found ourselves sitting out on the patio drinking iced tea. It was all going well.
Then, Herbert, having been a Baptist minister for decades began to quiz me on theology. At this point, I was still humble enough to know that there is a lot I don’t know. I got over all that quickly and soon came to know more about God than anyone.
I could sense Herbert’s questions were loaded and if I answered wrong, I was in for a theological beat-down. So, I carefully evaded direct answers and found an excuse to go play some baseball.
I knew that Herbert knew that my theology and his theology didn’t match up on a few points and to him a good spirited debate where two people were more than likely to get into a full-out argument was a good time.
I’d rather to have played baseball. Herbert’s desire to best me in a game of theological Jeopardy didn’t interest me.
But, as I got older, my views on God became less and less fluid and more and more a rock-solid impenetrable wall that towered around me. I was always ready to challenge anyone to penetrate my wall. Where truth and knowledge wasn’t enough, arrogance and B.S. took over.
The problem is that for every one of my bricks in the wall that was sound and true, there were maybe a hundred or two hundred that were misinterpretations of God, misunderstandings of God or just pure fiction made up because I liked God better that way.
So, for years, I probably only met a handful of people that I thought were doing the God thing right.
Then I learned that my wall was not a beautiful monument to God but it was a barrier between me, God, my family, my friends and anyone else in the world.
God’s grace isn’t a mighty wall. It is an overwhelming flood.
Ephesians 4:2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 one God and Father of all,
who is over all, in all, and living through all.
7 However, he has given each one of us a special gift, through the generosity of Christ.
This scripture pretty much tells me to tear that wall down.
I spent a lot of time making every effort to tear others’ walls down. But even if I do, I do not give them grace. I do not share the gift Christ freely gave to me. I still withhold it all for the day I find someone I determine to be worthy, someone that wants to help me build my wall.
Peace isn’t bludgeoning someone with scripture, spanking their tail ends with Christianity or pushing their wall in on top of them so they break and collapse. Peace is me making every effort to be united in the Spirit.
I spend a lot of time focusing on our differences. Paul writes that we focus on serving one God. There are a lot of arguments on how to do that. The first step is to stop arguing.
I honestly believe that if I have time to pick apart someone else’s faith in God, I am being disobedient, not only because I am fighting against unity but I am laying aside the things I know God wants me to do in order to find time to be critical of someone else.
If I can’t go help someone and serve God because another person believes differently about the rapture, the second coming, the Holy Spirit, I serve a God that is too small for the job.
The world is telling us to take our personal views and use them against each other. We are a country in the middle of a civil war. People haven taken up arms and are firing hateful, divisive words at each other.
I want to stand in peace. I want to serve the one true God and I am willing to lock arms to anyone that is willing to lay down their hate and join me.
I’m not always sure how to do this. Sometimes, I am my own worst enemy. But God’s grace is always there for me just as it is there for all.
You won’t find me arguing about theological hair-splitting around any tables. I’m just going to honestly and transparently testify as to what God has done for me. I don’t know why he did it, how he did it or what the purpose of the whole thing was. I only know that he did it, not me and he will do it for all.