by: Rev. Jerry Chiles
Recently I noticed a small book entitled The Wall: A Parable by Gloria Jay Evans. Why it caught my eye I wasn’t sure, but I was drawn to it. I have edited the text for the following version.
I don’t know when I first began to build the wall. I suppose it was when it occurred to me that I could keep people out of my life. Others saw it, but would step over it and come very close to me, then I built it higher. People would come rest their arms on the wall and talk to me. Some were not my kind of people. I became so absorbed in my wall that I searched my life for new stones.
One day I realized the wall was so high I no longer saw anyone. Is anyone there, I yelled, but no one answered. Floods of tears brought me to my knees and I said I am so alone.
In the stillness of my broken world, I knew in my whole being a Blessed Presence. He began to teach me about my stones and helped me remove the first stone. One day a hand came through the opening and I hesitantly took the hand. There stirred in me a hunger for human comfort. I began to look through the opening and a man stopped to talk. I told him how the Blessed Presence has changed my life. Slowly I began to notice other walls and I ventured out to talk to them. I stood by a wall being ignored until I heard racking sobs from inside. My heart began to break. I looked down to find a small flower. I picked and threw it over the wall and the sobbing stopped.
At times I am filled with a desire to rebuild my wall but we talk and He helps me to be strong. I know that someday the walls will be down and we will all walk free from place to place.
What kind of walls do churches build? racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, fundamentalism, or liberalism to name a few. The Southern Church preached to protect slavery which later morphed into segregation. Some churches practice sexism using Complementarianism as the reason for denying women the role of minister. Another wall churches build is homophobia believing God does not create people with this sexual deviation, but rather the persons are choosing to sin. Some churches build walls to keep out refugees believing the refugees are a threat to the American way of life. Finally, the issues of fundamentalism and liberalism have become walls. Many churches build walls to protect their brand of Christianity.
What kind of walls do ministers build? It is hard to talk about, because this is personal. Dealing with people can be stressful, which in turn causes us to build walls sometimes unconsciously. I am not suggesting we remove all protection; however, I am suggesting we lower our walls for most persons. We must be part of the body and not withdraw from it.
Tearing down walls for the church or ourselves is not easy. Breaking down walls enables us to show God’s love to others. With God’s help Joshua brought the Jericho walls down. Jesus removed the wall between God and humans. Paul demolished the wall between Jew and Greek. Martin Luther King cracked the wall of racism. What wall has God called you to tear down?
The writer of the book says:
He (God) said, now you begin to understand love. Without loves all the things I have told you would be meaningless. You will begin to live in peace and understanding. You will begin to learn gentleness and kindness, but it will take time. I will always be with you.
Quotes from The Wall: A Parable by Gloria Jay Evans published by W Pub Group, ©1977
These thoughts are from Rev. Jerry Chiles, one of our partners in ministry for the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina Metroplex. He has served in various churches across the Southeast as an associate minister. Contact him for more information about how he can help you.