There is power in separation. The builders of the atom bomb knew that as a fact when they succeeded in splitting atoms. And yet, there are things that no separating force can divide:
God’s attachment to His creation!
More powerful than the splitting of atoms, more powerful than all negative forces put together, is the power of God’s love.
In Jesus we see God’s love acted out. Jesus shows us in a million ways how God loves us. His follower John once wrote that our world is too small to carry the amount of books that had to be written to describe Jesus’s life on Earth. Yes, our world of misunderstandings, pettiness and warfare is much too small to conceive of a love that generous. The love of God is counter intuitive and counter cultural. It’s all invasive and all inclusive. It’s a love that stops nowhere and goes everywhere – even embraces mortal enemies. Jesus prayed for His torturers before He died and said (Luke 23:34):
“Father forgive them! They don’t know what they are doing.”
I rest my case.
Here is a spoiler alert for you: God’s love will stretch us if we open our hearts. Hearts get bigger and life gets better when we let Him in. Don’t even assume that God could lose interest in His creation! God won’t give up loving us, not in a million years. It’s something to remember in our worst hour. His love puts us back together and heals our brokenness. His love is both soothing and infectious. Inspired by His generous affections, we go out and do the same. We spread His love. And it all starts with receiving His.
“All you need is love, Love is all you need” Paul McCartney, John Lennon
It’s a modern miracle that Jewish identity persisted even after losing their home country to live in various nations all over the globe. A great example of preserving their cultural identity is the reintroduction of the Hebrew language. The process of the Hebrew language revival began on October 13, 1881, as Eliezer Ben-Yehuda and his friends agreed to exclusively speak Hebrew in their conversations. As a result, the language, which had not been spoken as a mother tongue since the second century CE, once again became the national language of Israel.
To protect their integrity, Jewish upbringing emphasized separation: stay away from that, avoid mingling with these. This approach served two purposes:
Maintain Jewish identity;
Avoid disintegrating into foreign cultures
While this protective mode has worked very well to survive all kinds of cultural invasions, the same approach has a tendency to isolate. When Jesus came along He mingled with everybody, He did not stay away from foreigners, outsiders, and He had relations with all sorts of troubled people; this was highly counter-cultural!
What is easier: to learn something new or to unlearn something? I believe both can be hard, but unlearning a bad habit can be a lot harder, especially unlearning prejudice. Jesus carried no baggage. There is no labeling or defensiveness in the Son of God. Learning to let go of our baggage will immensely contribute to removing walls that we put between ourselves and our neighbor.
Paul recognized that in his letter he wrote to his friends in Galatia, which is modern-day Turkey. He encouraged to reach out rather than to stay away from troubled people. He encouraged to build bridges rather than to burn them. Let’s keep that in mind as we embrace today!