By Miriam Rossow
I have a friend who grew up Catholic although by the time I met her, she was not part of the church any longer. Her story is similar to many people’s story. Her family was hurt by the church and felt the church was not doing what it preached. I don’t know the full story, but I do know they were turned off by the church and left. She is now an atheist and sees no need for God, nor does she feel that the god she ‘knows’ is helpful.
She knows that I am a Christian. She watched me go to church and youth activities while she didn’t go. She knows I am married to a pastor, and she knows many of my beliefs and where I stand on different issues.
And so when we get together we often have a conversation or debate. It almost always ends up on gay and lesbian rights or creation. We are almost always debating the topics of doctrine when we get together.
As we talked about boundaries on Sunday, I thought of my friend. I realized that we are always meeting at the boundary of the Christian container to have a conversation. We are always discussing the issues of Christianity. This leaves Jesus in the center of the container and far from her.
This leaves Jesus in the center of the container and far from her.
I would love to blame my friend and say she is always forcing me to the boundaries, which I think is true. However, I must admit I feel the need to defend my Christian perspective. I feel the need to defend and protect these lines that are so important. And so I stay at the boundary. With me on the inside and her on the outside.
Is this what Jesus wanted? Did He ask us to protect the frontline with strong arguments and pull out all the guns to guard Him? Did He want me to hide behind the walls?
He has broken down the walls of division. We are all equal and all in equal need of His love, grace, and forgiveness. We are all dead and enemies of God until Jesus does something about it.
— Miriam Rossow (@MiriamRossow) October 5, 2014
John 3:16-17 says God loved the world that He sent His Son to show His love to us. He did this by not fighting and defending but by dying. He did not come to condemn the world, but to save the world. He is not asking us to judge those around us but to love those around us like He did.
We are asked to share Him with others, not drag them over the boundaries. We are asked to make Jesus available through our words and deeds so that He may break down the walls.
What would happen if instead of allowing myself to stay at the boundaries in these conversations I pointed her to Jesus? What if I found some common ground between us and the way we think? What would happen if I defended less and simply said come and see? What if instead of being a Christian she knew I was a follower of Jesus? And in following Jesus she would be met with the cross and empty tomb.
What if instead of being a Christian she knew I was a follower of Jesus? And in following Jesus she would be met with the cross and empty tomb.
This is not always easy. The boundaries we have are important and valuable. When these boundaries lead someone away from Jesus instead of pointing them towards Jesus they are certainly not helpful.
I know that this is not possible without the Holy Spirit acting in my life and in her life to soften her heart and my words, to open her ears and my ears. I also know that as I only defend the boundary of my faith I become judgmental and cause division. I may not get the result I was expecting, and I can allow God to be the judge and Jesus to break down the walls of division.
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