The cross of Christ creates a new people, a people unhindered by skin color or family feud. A new citizenry based, not on common ancestry or geography, but on a common Savior.
My friend Buckner Fanning experienced this firsthand. He was a marine in World War II, stationed in Nagasaki three weeks after the dropping of the atomic bomb. Can you imagine a young American soldier amid the rubble and wreckage of the demolished city? Radiation-burned victims wandering the streets. Atomic fallout showering on the city. Bodies burned to a casket black. Survivors shuffling through the streets, searching for family, food, and hope. The conquering soldier feeling not victory but grief for the suffering around him
Instead of anger and revenge, Buckner found an oasis of grace. While patrolling the narrow streets, he came upon a sign that bore an English phrase: Methodist Church. He noted the location and resolved to return the next Sunday morning.
When he did, he entered a partially collapsed structure. Windows, shattered. Walls, buckled. The young marine stepped through the rubble, unsure how he would be received. Fifteen or so Japanese were setting up chairs and removing debris. When the uniformed American entered their midst, they stopped and turned.
He knew only one word in Japanese. He heard it. Brother. “They welcomed me as a friend,” Buckner relates, the power of the moment still resonating more than sixty years after the events. They offered him a seat. He opened his Bible and, not understanding the sermon, sat and observed. During communion the worshippers brought him the elements. In that quiet moment the enmity of their nations and the hurt of the war was set aside as one Christian served another the body and blood of Christ.
Another wall came a-tumblin’ down.
What walls are in your world?
Brian Overcast is knocking down walls in Morelia, Mexico. As director of the NOÉ Center (New Opportunities in Education), Brian and his team address the illegal immigration problem from a unique angle. Staff members told me recently, “Mexicans don’t want to cross the border. If they could stay home, they would. But they can’t because they can’t get jobs. So we teach them English. With English skills they can get accepted into one of Mexico’s low-cost universities and find a career at home. Others see illegal immigrants; we see opportunities.”
Another wall down.
We can’t outlive our lives if we can’t get beyond our biases. Who are your Samaritans? Ethiopian eunuchs? Whom have you been taught to distrust and avoid?
It’s time to remove a few bricks.
Welcome the day God takes you to your Samaria—not so distant in miles but different in styles, tastes, tongues, and traditions.
And if you meet an Ethiopian eunuch, so different yet so sincere, don’t refuse that person. Don’t let class, race, gender, politics, geography, or culture hinder God’s work.
Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.
(Romans 15:7 NLT)
Lord, in how many ways does my foolish heart make false distinctions among your people? Reveal them to me. How often do I judge someone as unworthy of you by the way I treat him or her? Rebuke me in your love. Where can I blast a wall or remove a barrier that keeps your children apart from one another? Give me some dynamite and the skill and courage to use it for your glory. What can I do in my sphere of influence to bring the love of Christ to someone who may feel ostracized or estranged from you? Lend me divine insight, and bless me with the resolve to be your hands and feet. May I be a bridge and not a wall. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen
(c) Max Lucado