Build bridges, not walls
As we enter a new year, Philip Young urges us to build bridges of unity rather than walls between us.
Walls are dangerous when they divide us. This is especially so when we decide, in our minds, to put all our friends and people who think like us on one side and we place all our enemies and those who don’t think like us on the other side.
As we enter 2019 the UK is a very divided nation. Just mention BREXIT and the division between the Remainers and the Leavers is still dominating our political agenda. The fear of a hard border between Northern and Southern Ireland is raising its ugly implications.
We are not the only ones feeling division. In the USA pro-Trump and anti-Trump feelings run as high as ever. The President still seems determined to build his wall between America and Mexico. Then there are the usual tensions between Israel and Palestine, not to mention the many other points of conflict around the world.
Can we make 2019 the year when we build bridges between us instead of walls? We only have one world and it would be a crying shame if we were so busy fighting one another that we forgot that it best serves us all to live peacefully together on this one Earth. The really important agenda is to care for and look after each other and our home planet.
The message of Christmas is relevant here. One big division that has faced us all throughout history is the divide between God and human beings. Jesus came to bring peace on Earth and goodwill towards all humankind. Jesus shows us that the divine and the human come together in one package. There is no dividing wall between God and humanity.
The implications of this are that all of us too are both human and divine. Paul teaches us that Jesus has come, ‘that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of two’ (Ephesians 2.15). He also says, ‘there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free; but Christ is all and in all’ (Colossians 3.11).
This has universal implications for all humanity. The Universal Christ came not just for Christians but for all humanity. If we as Christians divide the world into Christians and non-Christians, then we too are erecting a false wall which is not helpful. God’s love is for everyone.
So, let us in 2019 try to live our lives without walls, reaching with love across any man-made barriers, and seeing the divine image in all human beings and also in the whole of creation. If we see with the eyes of God, we shall see children everywhere who are our brothers and sisters.
We would do well to follow the advice of the Quaker George Fox in 1657 when he says, ‘Friends, meet together and know one another in that which is eternal, which was before the world was.’
With that friendship the dividing walls can be broken down and a new humanity, created in God’s image, can transform our world.
Philip is an Anglican, Quaker, and a member of the Third Order of Franciscans, and now lives in Felixstowe. Until July 2014 he was the Diocesan Environmental Officer for the Norwich Diocese. In June 2017 he stood as an Independent Candidate for the General Election in the Suffolk Coastal Constituency. He is now Associate Priest at St. John and St. Edmund in Felixstowe and a freelance writer on spiritual and political matters. He is available to run Quiet Days, give talks, presentations or to preach and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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