For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him.
Romans 10:12 (NIV)
Six years ago Wendy and I were in London and had the pleasure of attending the National Theatre. The production that night was a fascinating play about the different waves of modern immigrants who flooded into London over the past few hundred years. The play was set in one low rent tenement building that became home to all of these various ethnic groups, and in the pub on the street below.
When the French Huguenots moved in the poor Brits in the pub grumbled about the “F*#@ing French!”
When the Indians moved in the assimilated French Huguenots in the pub grumbled about the “F*#@ing Indians!”
When the Irish moved in during the Great Famine the assimilated Indians in the pub grumbled about the “F*#@ing Irish!”
When the Russian Jews moved in during the Russian pogroms the assimilated Irish in the pub grumbled about the “F*#@ing Jews!”
You get the picture. We are such a homogenous and exclusionary society. Even in the “great melting pot” of the United States, which over the past 250 years may have easily become the most racially and culturally diverse society in the history of the earth, we still grumble about the next wave of immigrants. We feel suspicious about people who aren’t “American” and don’t speak English. We talk about building giant walls to keep people out.
I have observed that followers of Jesus are not immune to this phenomenon. As children we are taught to sing:
“red and yellow, black and white,
they are precious in His sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
What our Sunday School teachers left out was the bit about these children not being particularly precious in our sight. They didn’t teach us the qualification about these children being “precious in His sight in their own country of origin.”
In today’s chapter, Paul announces to those following Jesus in Rome that the walls the people of Israel had built up in their hearts to exclude non-Jews (known as Gentiles) had been toppled once and for all by Jesus. Beyond that, read the Jesus story and you discover Him toppling walls between genders, walls between social strata, and walls between political camps. Wherever those walls still exist today (and they exist all over the place), it’s because we who have followed Jesus have exerted ourselves to rebuild those walls in our hearts, lives, homes, churches, and communities.
Today I’m reading my own post and examining my own heart. As usual, as I point my finger at others there are three pointing back at me. I live in an incredibly homogenous community comfortable in its lack of diversity. I must confess to you: evidence suggest that I am quite an accomplished spiritual brick layer myself.
God, will you lend me your sledgehammer?
Step back, please.