Friday, November 13, 2009

We Draw the Lines

Recently a man at one of the Bible studies I attend told a story about his experience giving a presentation in a second grade classroom. His presentation was intended the help the kids get in the habit of thinking about the world around them. At one point he projected on the screen a picture of Earth taken from space. He asked the students to respond to the picture, and one little girl said, "We draw the lines." When he asked her to elaborate on that, she pointed at the globe in the classroom that was marked with the boundaries between countries. "Those black lines aren't really there," she said. "We draw the lines."

People draw all kinds of lines. We separate people into groups based on where they live, what they look like, what they believe, what they have, and the people with whom they associate. These divisions don't really exist for God. God created us with a wide variety of attributes, but He still sees us as equals in spite of our differences. Paul wrote that there is no difference between Jew and Greek, slave and free, or male and female when it comes to God and our salvation through Christ. God doesn't care all that much about our backgrounds, our social status, or even our race or gender. He cares about what's in our hearts, and all of us have the same potential to be faithful children of God.

Our world is full of racism, sexism, classism, discrimination, and elitist and exclusionary behavior. As a Christian, however, I need to challenge myself to purge those things from my life because they are not of God. I need to be able to understand that people are inherently equal and loved by God even as I make decisions about how to respond to their actions, both good and bad. I know that I live in a world where the lines we've drawn have a lot of power, and I can't just pretend they aren't there. Still, it's my responsibility to challenge these artificial divisions whenever I can and to try not to let them stop me from sharing love with the people around me. I have a very different life from most of the people on the planet, but how different are we really on the inside? Our common humanity is more important to me than the lines we draw.

I want to connect to all kinds of people without limiting myself to associations that society deems appropriate. I want to be friends with people who are different from me—with men, people of other races, people from other countries and cultures, people with more or less money than I have, people who don't work outside the home, people with children, and people whose political and religious beliefs differ from mine. I want to have people in my life who look, sound, and live differently from me. I don't want to draw a line to keep them out of my life—I want to invite them in so they can enrich my perspective on the world and challenge me to connect with them on a deeper level. I am so glad that God made such a wide variety of people and that He loves all of us. It's great news that we are the ones who draw the lines, because that means we can help erase them too.

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