The mere mention of the word “wall” evokes much emotion these days.
Sitting with an older gentlemen as I waited to get an ultrasound of my neck brought up another emotion I hadn’t thought of. In his life-time, talk of a “wall” resurrects thoughts of the Berlin Wall. Communism. Division. Dictatorship. Strife. Separation inside the borders of one’s own country.
Today, the conversation erupting in America about a wall is built around keeping certain people outside of our country’s borders. Division. Separation.
No matter what side of the fence you’re on, or in this case — the wall — it’s usually a matter of keeping some IN or some OUT. Walls are like that. They are structures built to contain or constrain. Funny how changing two letters makes a world of difference. And differences often divide and separate the best of us.
But let’s bring it in a bit.
What about church walls? Walls that are built for worship and teaching that can sometimes become walls to contain or constrain …our gifts …our relationships …our philosophies …our loyalties …our form of worship.
Let’s have a little sit-down conversation about the gifts first of all …
I grew up in the church and from the time I was able to speak a word or sing out loud, those gifts and abilities were used “within the church walls” to bless and encourage others. There’s nothing wrong with that.
But what if …what if we assume our gifts are given to us to be used solely within the confines of the walls of the church? You sing? Well, of course you’re supposed to be in the church choir or on the church worship team! You teach? Obviously, you’re supposed to be using that gift to teach Sunday School or preach in the church setting. You dance? Well now …that’s one for the interpretive dance team during worship at church. You play an instrument? You get the idea !
I believe there’s more.
Not too long ago, I had an image flash through my mind of Jesus standing in the middle of a church building. In this scene, He stretched out His hands and pushed down the side walls of the church and then pivoted in position to push down the opposite two walls. The Spirit seemed to speak that God is breaking down the walls of the church and telling His people to go out and tell others about Him …BE the church outside the walls. Take our gifts and abilities and use them “outside the walls” to bring hope and life and love to those who would never darken the door of our church buildings or who have felt too dark to be welcomed within our walls.
Recent conversations with my girls reminded me that just because you sing like an angel, teach with profound wisdom and knowledge, or bring people together for good — doesn’t mean you’re supposed to wrap all that gift up inside the walls of the church ministry. Take it out there where it’s needed. Be the church outside the walls as well as benefiting the body of Christ within the walls.
Hoarding is unacceptable in the God’s house.
It would seem preposterous to tell someone gifted in medicine to only practice within the walls of church or to tell my meteorologist son that he should figure out a way to serve on the church staff to use his ability of forecasting the weather.
Think about it. Do we do the same with all gifts and abilities? Assume they’re only worthwhile if they’re used within the four walls of an organized religious establishment?
Are we so worried we’ll be negatively influenced by the world that we’re afraid to take the power of Jesus Christ outside? Think about that just a minute. Is this more a tactic of the enemy to try to constrain followers of Jesus from being the powerful influence they were meant to be?
Are we relying too much on our walls to let us off the hook from sharing our gifts with the world as God intended? Isn’t God worth sharing with everyone? …or have we used our walls to keep us comfortably warm and fed inside while others are starving for love and left out in the cold without the hope that only Jesus Christ can give …hope that we, in fact, are called as His ambassadors to share.
This powerful passage in the Bible goes on to say …
“…by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”
Let’s begin to think outside the box — the walls.
Share you gift at coffee shops, open mic nights, events in your community, blogging or writing, theater groups, schools, neighborhoods …even in your own living room with gathered friends.
Don’t wall in your gift! Let the walls tumble down as you sing! Break down the barriers in your community by speaking out for others who may not have a voice. Take your gift of dance into the theater or art centers and put your worship on!
And may the walls fall down!