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Friday, November 09, 2012

What Kind of Roads Do You Build?

Today, I stood at a unique spot in Sarajevo. As we visited a park on one of the many hills around the city, our host Todd Denius pointed out a road running parallel to the park. You can see this road somewhat in the picture if you look carefully over my shoulder. On my left-hand side (your right) is the Serbian Republic, while on my right-hand side (your left) is the Bosnian Federation. These are roughly the political equivalent of states, but with much greater division and animosity between them. There are many, many people living in these two areas that would never consider crossing the road to the other side. This road is a clear demarcation of one side from the other. For the Bosnians, it was "those guys" on the other side that started the war and put the city under a horrible siege for 3 long years. For the Serbs, they were simply repaying what had been done to them generations earlier.

It occured to me today how often we build roads like these. The "us" versus "them" mentality sneaks into so much of what we do- our political system, how people vote on a bill, the way we defend certain rights, our side of the car, or the bed- we create parallel, dividing lines to keep us separated from those whom we perceive to be our enemies. Though they are often quite close to us, we look across our carefully crafted lines and rehearse the mental mantras we have against them. We stay on our side, they stay on theirs, and everyone can get along.

In contrast to this, I thought today about the kind of roads that Jesus built. During his life, Jesus seemed to build many roads, but these roads never seemed to divide- they intersected. They transected. (Ok, you could argue that Jesus created a divide between himself and religious leaders of his day, but that's another blog for another day.) Jesus created pathways that reconnected the sick and the healthy, Gentile and Jew, rich and poor, down-trodden sinners to a loving God. Everything Jesus did seemed to be an effort to draw people together into a new kind of Kingdom; a kingdom marked by love, forgiveness, truth, and mercy. People didn't have to hide their stuff from him, because he knew about it already and forgave them anyway.

I wonder- what kind of roads are you building in your life? Roads that divide, or roads that connect? Do you find yourself working towards healing, hope and restoration? Or do your actions create sides that draw up battle lines? I'm just wondering today because I think it's our human nature to create "us" versus "them" kind of divides. If this is true, than part of denying myself in order to follow Jesus will mean that I be willing to lay down this kind of construction. Even when I'm angry, even when I want to hate or ignore or turn against- even then I work on paths that reconnect people. That's what Jesus did for me with God, and I'm so glad that He did.

May you be aware of the roads you build today. And when necessary, may you tear down the ones that divide in favor of ones that connect.

Journey in His peace-


Linda said...

Thanks for explaining the situation where you are standing. Visualizing it helps to understand the divisions causing obstacles. Your very insightful explanation and challenge to us is good.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this particular post. It is this divide that I see a lot of people who would be "Believers" turn away from Christ because they feel they are on the wrong side and are not sure how to get on the side of good so to speak and its the ones who in my opinion practice this that are showing by example like Jesus did, the way to Christ.Thank you for keeping perspective Nick and being a good leader.