The Wall that Divides Us

The world today is divided. I think we all recognize that.

The “us” versus “them” mentality is thriving. But let’s dig down a little deeper: define who is us and who is them? Who are we divided against?

There is so much division fueled by anger, that it’s difficult to let our voice be heard, but it’s also difficult to truly listen to someone else, to hear their point of view over all of the shouting and the anger. I want to listen and understand others, but is that even possible right now?

So many questions. And not many answers.

What can we do?

First, let’s be aware of any walls we’re building to keep out others. Who are we keeping out? Go back to “who is us” and “who is them.” Just because someone believes differently than you, is that a reason to shut them out? Are we doing this, building divides, without even realizing it? I think it’s become that prevalent in society so we don’t even get that we’re making the division worse.

Let’s start nationally: I’m a citizen of the United States of America. If friends or family have a different political affiliation than I do, does that mean I have to build a dividing wall between us? Absolutely not! Whether or not I voted for our current president is not relevant at this point. I want whoever is president of the United States to succeed, to do what is best for our country. We are called to pray for our leaders, and we need to do that, whether we agree with them or not.

Now, what about closer to home? I’m sure you’ve heard of divisions within churches, and

among people of the same faith. That makes me sad. As a Christian, we all believe in the same God. We all have Bibles, so it should be simple to love one another and treat each other with kindness. Yet somehow it isn’t.

And with our friends and neighbors? Yes, there are times I hold a vastly different opinion than even my closest friends. Does that mean I have to build a dividing wall between “us” and “them?” Really? I don’t think so.

1 Timothy 4:12 (NLT) says, “Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you

live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” The NIV translation says “…set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”

The book of 1 Timothy was written by the apostle Paul to Timothy, who was a young leader in

the church. Paul wanted to encourage him. When this scripture says to be an example to all believers, do you really think Paul meant to ignore everyone else?

No, I think we’re called to tear down the dividing walls, whether we purposefully built them or not. I want to be an example to others in the way I live my life, in my hope and faith.

However, just because someone doesn’t believe the way I do, doesn’t mean I ignore them. We should listen to them, listen to their point of view, and learn things we may not have known before. If we look at things from their perspective, don’t you think we’ll find more common ground than not?

As a Christian, I need to be cautious not to put myself in a bubble with other believers and divide myself from those who don’t believe as I do. I think it’s more important to reach out, especially this day in age, and find the common ground. We need to go back to the principle of agreeing to disagree. In the long run, we’re all citizens of the world. We all long to have good lives and be part of a community of neighbors, friends and family. Despite our differences, don’t you think it’s time to really listen to one another….not argue, not shout in anger…but have real conversation? It’s time to tear down the walls that divide us. In reality, there’s no “them” – there’s just us. We’re all in this life together, so I don’t think we can truly afford to be divided from one another.

Questions for you: Have you built a wall dividing yourself from others without realizing it?

How do we bridge the gap with others who may have a different perspective than we do?

Scoring For the Other Team

This past weekend, the Senior Pastor at my church delivered a message called “Know Your Enemy.” Our enemy is Satan, a fallen angel. This enemy can have us turn on each other. He can have us do things that take us further from our walk with Christ.

Our pastor gave a good analogy of how sometimes we think we are doing good and doing the right thing, but maybe we’re not. Like a hockey player who has the puck but he is going the wrong way down the ice towards the opponent’s goal, and ends up scoring for the other team.

How often have I scored for the other team by my actions or attitude? Am I doing what I want or want Christ wants?

I’m also studying Romans 8 right now, via Dineen Miller’s “You Are Loved” book. In Roman’s 8:1, it states: “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

Dineen also states that the enemy’s mission is to condemn us and destroy our faith. If we have no condemnation as Christ followers, then how can the enemy do this to us? Easy – he is a deceiver. And if we’re not paying attention, then we’re scoring for the other team.

We need to remember how Jesus treated others. Are we so busy judging everyone else that we forget to take a look at ourselves? Are we so self-focused that we don’t care what anyone else is doing? Do we say, “I have to get there faster, I have to take care of my own stuff, I’ll ignore that because it has nothing to do with me.”

If we are no longer condemned as Christ followers, then what gives us any right to condemn others? If we are forgiven and set free, why can’t we forgive others? If someone lives a lifestyle different than mine, am I treating them with kindness or am I condemning them? Judging them? Spitting in their face because they’re different than me?

Or are we so busy trying to shine our light for Jesus that we end up with a strobe light in someone’s face instead? How can they see the light of Christ when we’re blinding them? Blinding with our attitudes and judgment.

It’s a dark world, but we know who has the ultimate victory. So, this week, as I think through all of this, I have to ask myself, “Is my light shining brighter in kindness, or in condemnation?”

In other words, I don’t want to keep scoring for the other side.



Balancing Act

Our pastor of worship arts gave a great message over the weekend.  I’ve been pondering his words for the past few days. 

He spoke about Christians living in a bubble and how we need to step out from that bubble.  And when we step out of that bubble, how are we perceived? 

I think it’s a matter of finding the balance.  We need our “Christian bubble” for encouragement, support, to learn and grow as Christians, and to go deep in our friendships. We need that fellowship.

But with our jobs, our hobbies, heck, even at the grocery store, we’re going to run into people of different faiths, different lifestyles and some who very decidedly are not Christians.

So, how do these other people perceive us?  If you think about the perception of Christians in general, do you think that perception is positive?  I think we all know the answer to that.

Growing up, I remember a song from church: “They will know we are Christians by our love…”

What’s one of the most well-known verses in the Bible: “Love one another.”

Are we missing that message these days?  If you run across someone living a lifestyle you know is contrary to God’s word, how do you treat them? 

You may immediately counter with how we are being treated.  That’s not the point.  In all our dealings with people in our lives, we should be courteous, kind and most of all respectful.  Whether you agree or disagree with their views, actions, lifestyle, religion — don’t you think we’ll get farther in our relationships and in our ability to plant some seeds, if they are planted with kindness and respect?

I know Christians are supposed to share the good news of the Bible.  Yet, our calling may not be to change people right there on the spot. For me personally, I believe that I plant more seeds, show Christ’s love more abundantly by how I live my life and how I treat others.

If I am kind, considerate and respectful — won’t that give a better image of “Christian” than showving my views down someone’s throat?  I don’t like when someone shoves their views at me.  How do you want to be treated?

Again, it’s a balance.  And it’s a thin tightrope to walk.  But I believe in the old saying “Kill ’em with kindness.”

Personally, I want someone to know “we are Christians by our love.” 

Dream a Little Dream…. Heck, Dream Big!

I thought one tennis-related post would be enough, but after watching the results of the Wimbledon Championships over the weekend, I couldn’t resist one more.

Every player who enters Wimbledon dreams of winning this tournament. It is arguably the most elite, most coveted of all the grand slams. The century of tradition and great moments make it a very special place.

This past Saturday, Marion Bartoli and Sabine Lisicki played for the women’s championship. All the top seeds were gone and neither of these ladies had ever won a grand slam tournament. It was a great opportunity for both players. Marion won. She played steadily and with confidence. And as well as Lisicki played during the tournament to reach the finals, even beating the #1 women’s player, Serena Williams, the occasion of being in the finals of Wimbledon was too much for her.

But Marion Bartoli was a class act, and showed that she remembered what it was like to be in Lisicki’s shoes. Bartoli was the runner-up to Venus Williams in 2007. It took her six long years to even reach another final. And she was determined not to blow her opportunity. But she had only kind words for Lisicki and encouraged her for future appearances at Wimbledon.

Then the best moment in sports, in my opinion, happened.

 Image from

After all of the pomp and circumstances of the trophy presentation and photographs, the two women walked off the court arm-in-arm, smiling, savoring their time on Centre Court at Wimbledon. Bartoli demonstrated that she didn’t forget what it felt like to be runner-up. She was clearly basking in her own victory, in her own dream coming true, but she didn’t forget, and she made sure Lisicki knew how special it was just to be there, right where they were, playing in the biggest grand slam tournament in the world. I hope we see these two women a lot in future tournaments, and that they always show the class they exhibited on Saturday.

Then came Sunday, and the men’s final. The weight of an entire country was on Andy Murray’s shoulders to win Wimbledon and become the first man from Great Britain to win their home tournament in 77 years. But he had to face the #1 player in the world, Novak Djokovic in order to do this.

Both men had been to the finals before. Novak was victorious in 2011. But Andy…. He was in tears in 2012, as the great Roger Federer beat him last year. But I have to believe those tears made yesterday’s victory over Djokovic all the sweeter. Novak knew how sweet this was. But you know he was disappointed not to win. However, his on-court comments were full of congratulations to Andy and this accomplishment.

These men did not walk off the court together. Novak left the court fairly early… leaving the moment for Andy and for Great Britain. To me, that showed as much class as Bartoli did the day before. If you follow tennis, you know the moment was huge for Murray, and Novak understood that and left so Murray could bask in his victory. But Djokovic will be back. You know he will.

These are examples of respect, and for encouraging someone in their dreams.

My dream is to be a writer, a writer with several books published. It’s a dream that takes hard work. These tennis players achieved their dreams by YEARS of hard work, training, hours and hours on the tennis court and in the gym.

I’ve watched as most of my friends have succeeded and had books published. I’ve hugged and shared with them the joy of receiving that phone call from an editor or agent, saying their book was accepted for publication. I’ve stood on the sidelines and watched their dreams come true.

And I’ve genuinely been happy for them. Yes, it stings a little, because I haven’t yet achieved my dream.

But like Murray’s tears from 2012 that made this year’s victory all the more sweeter, my achievement will be sweet, and in God’s timing. And maybe Sabine’s tears will make her moment sweeter when it comes.

My time is coming. And while I’m on this journey (and let’s not forget the importance of the journey, not just the destination), my friends, published or not, continue to encourage me in pursuit of my goals.

We can all take a lesson from tennis, from the respect and sportsmanship that was demonstrated over the weekend.

As a Christian, I hope my actions always demonstrate Christ’s love to others, even when I don’t understand what God is doing in my life.

So, tell me, are you encouraging someone else to dream big? Are you watching someone else’s dreams come true, and celebrating with them even if you’re still struggling with yours?

Photo courtesy of

Can you imagine the impact of this world if we all were encouragers and cheerleaders for each other?

I dare you to dream big, to cheer someone else on in their dreams, and let’s watch what happens from there.