Barrier Breaker

Luke 16:19–31; Acts 16:1–5; 1 Corinthians 9:16–23 (read online ⧉)

One of the more inteing things that is occurring in this event called COVID-19 and its physical distancing are the conversations that are going along with it. There are plenty of political and health conversations (neither necessarily with all the facts or research, and this comes from all corners). There are economic conversations. There are logistical conversations. There are, amazingly, religious conversations.

For some of us, we are watching religious conversations regarding topics that some people had been thinking about (for example, communion online) for a time, to an immediate need. There are those that were dismissive (at best) of having any sort of online (and dismissing those who had it as shallow) who now are doing their best to understand what it means to actually do it.

Then, there are those who need to be theologically “correct” who have decided to do nothing. Taking a prophet’s s out of context, they kicked their sheep out to the wolves because they couldn’t feed them the “right” grass. Yes, that is more than a bit snarky.

However, this a different form of the conversation continually had and that Paul was having.

In ’ story of the beggar Lazarus (not to be confused with the Lazarus who was brought back to life), Abraham points out to the rich man that the prophets and the laws were already there. He and his brothers either didn’t see them, ignored them (either of these two would fit in the context of ’ story), or believe that they were rich thus they were righteous (a common belief then and now).

How does this apply? Well, the so-called righteous living was not be lived through the filter of the Law or the prophets. In other s, they confused results, riches, and power with being followers of .

Paul, on the other hand, knew that he was dealing with the “blind”. He did an odd thing. He circumcised Timothy. As this was all part of the context of delivering the message from the Apostles about what Gentiles needed to do to be “right”, we understand that Paul did not impose this upon Timothy because Timothy needed it to be done to be righteous. Paul did it so that there would be one less barrier between Timothy (and Paul) and the Jews.

Paul’s mission was to share the . He understood that there would be barriers (mental, emotional, logical, theological) between him and others. He would do his best (without violating the Way of ) to identify with them enough to re barriers and build .

Often, even usually, people want others to re their barriers. However, the love of Christ should be goading us to re our barriers so that the message of the is receivable by others. Whether it is online, in person, through music, through tele, or some other medium we need to re our barriers.

It is not their responsibility to closer to us. It is our responsibility to closer to them. How do we know this? came down as a baby. The infinite became the finite. We could not re the barriers between ourselves and . Only could.

※ Prayer ※
, help us to set aside our ways for your ways. Help us set aside our desires for your desires. Help us to reach people with the who neither know nor believe they need it. Amen.

※ Questions ※
1) What is one thing that keeps you from “agreeing” or “getting along” with people from another political party? Why does that one thing matter to you? Why might that one thing matter to them differently?
2) One of ’ lessons is that our religioy can inhibit others from having a with . What might one religious thing of yours might that be?
3) Why is it so important to understand that we have the responsibility to approach others? What might that mean for our daily lives?

Pastor Ian

By Pastor Ian

Ian is an ordained Elder in The Church of the Nazarene, and is currently serving as the Online Campus Pastor at Generations Community Church in Marysville, WA, USA.