by Allison Martin
Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
It was the summer of 1987 when President Ronald Reagan called for an end to the separation of East and West Berlin with his famous words, “Tear down this wall.” I want to borrow his words and passion, though it isn’t brick and mortar barriers I’m aiming for. The walls I see lie hidden deep within the hearts of broken people all around us. These walls have been built up over a lifetime. They grew taller with every cruel word and heartless rejection. They grew stronger with every friend that walked away, and every voice that told them they didn’t matter, weren’t good enough, and could never change.
You may not see these walls through a smiling face, but they are very real. They protect a heart that’s been hurt one too many times. No one is able to get very close. The less people know the real us, the less our chances of rejection. If you never let yourself trust, it’s not so devastating when people let you down. It’s also a lot more lonely.
The walls people build to keep from being hurt actually keep them from being seen. When no one sees you as you truly are, you rob yourself the chance to be loved. Our deepest longing is to be seen and loved - our deepest loneliness is when we are neither. People find themselves neither seen or loved, because they have hidden themselves away behind a wall.
They will never experience the love of God or of a sister until they open their hearts to receive it. And they can’t open their hearts to anyone while those isolating walls still stand. So here is my challenge to the Church: The walls must come down. For those that sit in our pews and in our living rooms and in our sphere of influence, their walls must fall.
Our efforts to shout the love of God over people’s walls aren’t working. It’s time we gave the love of God hands and feet, and got busy tearing down walls.
I can’t lie to you. This challenge is a daunting task. We love a quick, easy fix. And in the wall demolition business, there isn’t one. It won’t happen in a week or a month or probably even a year.
We pray for God to work a miracle like He did at Jericho, where the walls come crashing down in one huge, miraculous moment. And sometimes He does. But sometimes the miracle is in the grace to pull down one brick at a time. It takes more investment, more time, and more commitment. But it works.
One brick at a time.
One kind word, one unexpected text, one little card, one altar service where they look up and realize someone’s got their back. One invitation, one inside joke, one time remembering something they said to show them that they are worth remembering. One smile, one hour at a coffee shop, one “I missed you”.
It can be exhausting work, and some days you’ll give it everything you’ve got only to realize it doesn’t look much different than when you started. But the reward is that you get so focused on doing the next little thing that one day, you look up and the wall is gone. For the first time, you get to see the person behind the wall. Because they will know that as they strive to become who God has called them to be, they’ve got someone to walk beside them. And neither of you will ever be the same.
So how do we see walls fall? Reaching out, over and over and over. Pouring out, knowing there’s a chance they may reject it. By proving that not everyone leaves when times get hard.
Simply put, we tear down walls through the simple, life changing calling of being a friend.