Breaking Down Fences


Acknowledging our own brokenness is what makes high walls between people crumble. It breaks us from our need to be "right" and allows us to extend to others the grace we have been given.

Blessed are the peacemakers

What a heart knows by heart—is what a heart knows.

And one night in the dark, my heart kept pounding out the memory of the Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the peacemakers—for they will be called children of God."

If I didn't live peace—then whose child was I?

I had to get out of bed. Had to change things. I tapped out an email to a person whose words had bled me open that day. My fingers trembled. I sent an invitation to dinner. Not a rebuttal, not an explanation, not a defense. I invited their whole family to come over and sit across the table. Instead of having a breakdown or breaking fellowship, I asked if we could break bread.

When I saw their responding email, I closed my eyes and I prayed hard. I was shaking scared when I opened their words because you don't know when a fence might be built up or torn down.

I read the words there on my screen:

"I want to send you an apology . . . Something happened inside of me when I saw your name in my inbox.

I had neglected to remind myself—that you are a real person and, not only that, but a sister in Christ.

I can't deny that somewhere in my mind lurks this insider and outsider kind of thinking which somehow encourages me to extend greater courtesy to one group than another."

I put my hand on the screen and laid my head down on the table, and I cried.

The Body of Christ has a thousand angry opinions, a thousand fractions and divisions and circles, all these cliques of circles, all these walls. But none of us are not broken.

And acknowledging our own brokenness is what makes high walls between people crumble. Because when you are broken—it's always your pointing finger that is broken. You can't point at anyone else anymore as the only sinner.

Brokenness breaks us from our need to be "right" and breaks us open to our need to extend the grace we have been given.

Is Christ divided?

Puritan Richard Baxter in his work The Reformed Pastor brazenly wrote:

"He that is not a son of Peace is not a son of God. All other sins destroy the Church consequentially; but Division and Separation demolish it directly . . ."

Division and separation demolish the Church directly. If you want a field to yield, you have to tear out the fences.

We are the women who take seriously enough the commandment of the Last Supper to love one another that we invite someone to our table from the other side of the fence. We are God's children who break bread together to break down walls.

The Christians who instead of waging attack on the implicit issues of another's faith life spend our lives openly encouraging an explicit faith in the living Christ. We are sisters who really believe the Bible, that "The Lord knows those who are his" (2 Tim. 2:19), and we could be the ones who stop judging and simply make our lives about the joy-filled proclamation of knowing him and making him known.

We could be his daughters called to be Peacemakers and Rift Menders and Fence Destroyers, the ones who know that the brokenness of humility is the secret to community, and the harshness of pride is what builds walls of division.

We could be the ones who know that the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love (Galatians 5:6).

The sisters who know not just in our cerebral synapses but in the chambers of our bravely pounding hearts: that if we have right doctrine, but have not love, we are nothing more than a clanging gong.

That the only barbed wire the Body ever knows is like those barbed thorns pressed into his brow.

That Maundy Thursday Lord, that Good Friday Christ, breaking His own body on that cross to break down the walls of hostility that separate us all.

By Ann Voskamp

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