Hal Brady

Brady

I have just finished preparing a Sunday School lesson related to Joshua’s experience of carrying out God’s plan in tearing down the walls of Jericho. The walls of Jericho were the first obstacle facing Joshua and the children of Israel as they sought to gain God’s gift of the promised land. It’s a fascinating account of faith, obedience and leadership found in chapters five and six of the book of Joshua.

The reason I’m mentioning this today is because walls can be a problem both individually and nationally and always need to be addressed. And such is no less true today.

Ancient Jericho relied on a wall surrounding the city to protect its inhabitants from invaders. And if the truth were known, many of us have built walls in our hearts and minds for a similar purpose; to protect our self-esteem and to guard against challenges to our way of thinking and perhaps our prejudices.

Often such walls end up destroying our relationships with family, friends and fellow Americans. Sometimes these walls of separation are so strong that only the power of God can break them down.

As we focus on the walls of discord that have caused shock across our land, let us pray to God that He will enable us to tear down the walls of separation that divide us and begin to move forward together with renewed hope.

For sure, there are numerous walls that divide us, but I only want to mention three that need to be immediately addressed if there is to be healing in our nation.

First, there are the walls of contact without fellowship! The late Howard Thurman, prominent religious leader and mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., stated in his book “Jesus and the Disinherited,” these words: “Hatred often begins in a situation in which there is contact without fellowship, contact that is devoid of any of the primary overtures of warmth and fellow-feeling and genuineness.

“Contact without fellowship” is certainly a characteristic of social media in our day. Sadly but true, much of the division we are experiencing today in the United States is related to the disrespectful attitudes and verbiage displayed on social media.

People having an anonymous platform of bias, intimidation and unkindness, with contact without fellowship, have and are causing others to be fed up and reject social media. These social media walls of separation need to be addressed.

Second, there are the walls of rightness without relationships! How many times have all of us sacrificed being “in relationship” for being “in the right”-right about our position, right about our personal prefaces, right about our condemnations, right about our disagreements and right about our rights. And the relationships have gone down the tubes.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son to be in relationship with us.” God’s will is to be kind.

Max Lucado gave this pertinent illustration in one of his books. A woman in a small Arkansas community was a single mom with a frail baby. Her neighbor would stop by every few days and keep the child so she could shop.

After some weeks her neighbor shared more than time. She shared her faith and the young woman did what Matthew did. She followed Christ.

The friends of the young women objected. “Do you know what those people teach?” they contested.

“Here is what I know,” she said, “they held my baby.” In other words, they were kind.

Third, there are the walls of selfish power without the interest of the common good! A man of faith was asked by a reporter once why he labored so diligently in lost causes. He was a radical Christian, a pacifist. Everything he belonged to, everything he worked for, in a sense failed. His work, as a reporter pointed out to him, didn’t make any impact on the world at all.

He said, “I don’t do these these things to change the world. I do these things so the world won’t change me.”

That’s truly a word to the wise if we want our nation to be healed, and if we want to be part of the healing process.

Walls need to be addressed!

The Rev. Hal Brady is an ordained United Methodist minister and executive director of Hal Brady Ministries, based in Atlanta. You can watch him preach every week on the Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters TV channel Thursdays at 8 p.m.

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