We have heard a lot in the current election season about building walls. Let me quickly suggest that sometimes walls are good. Without them we would not feel safe in our houses. However, in our current culture the talk of walls seems to be having a real negative impact on us. Without being willing to acknowledge it, walls are being built in families, churches, local communities and just about everywhere across our land. Using the wall is of interest because on the national level the mudslinging between the parties seem to be getting worse and worse. Efforts for reconciliation seem to be ending in futility. If ever there were prospects for some reconciliation, even among Republicans, it would seem to be because “politics makes strange bed-fellows,” but not because of any principle of love or forgiveness. For a long time, much has been done to build negative walls and now there seems to be little room for deconstructing what has been constructed.
My point for referencing the above is that I am thinking that as leaders we need to be very concerned about the kinds of relationships that we are constructing for ourselves, and generations to come. Do we ever think of the fact that when for generations people lived in non-walled spaces that they were more kind and friendly towards each other? This, some of us might say, is debatable since we have never known anything other than walled spaces. Today we build walls and build up distrust, suspicion, and prejudices against each other. We spend time criticizing and telling false tales about each other. We fear each other because we do not know each other. Yes, the walls we are building are making us so hostile towards each other that we can be very sure that we are going to have more and more violence everywhere. One of the historical statements for which President Ronald Reagan is remembered was when he stood before the Berlin wall and said, “Mr. Gorbachev. Tear down this wall.”
Among the serious questions that we need to ask ourselves these days is, “How can we break down the walls?” If you do not mind a biblical answer, here is one coming from one of the apostles who was profoundly concerned about the walls. He noted how such walls were destroying relationships among the people of his time and hampering the opportunity for sharing the gospel. He wrote thus to the Ephesians:
- For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. (Ephesians 2:14-18 NKJV).
My point in this reflection is not to make a political point, but to ask that we take a page out of Christ’s book so that we might do all that He gives us the power to do. He wants us to tear down walls of hostility rather than to build them. Effective leadership demands that we find ways to tear down the walls of hostility instead of building them up.