We humans are so good at creating boundaries- in groups, and out groups. Nations states often seem to have a dependent relationship with their enemies.
We have seen the extremes of this- the walls around China, or Berlin, and now- Palestine.
This learning to love thing- it is tough.
I have commented before on how difficult living in community with others can be- how it peels you and then salts the sore bits. (See here.)
At times I think that anyone who tries to live like this is engaging in a foolish ritual, that is guaranteed to be fruitless and painful. Like squatting in spurs.
But then I see a flicker again of how things should be. A friend with an arm around another, seeming to generate warmth that is tangible. Or a relationship that has been bad, now made good… and the picture given to us in Acts 3 seems possible.
32All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.
But lets never kid ourselves that this path of love is an easy one- or even an instinctive one.
our rambling old house
We British people have been blessed with many good things- comparative peace, the rule of law, freedoms that others envy. Our experience of poverty and injustice is often second hand. But sometimes, our castles are seiged- just a little,,,
We live in a big old house in Dunoon, that we regard as God’s house. (Although, somewhat unfairly, the mortgage is ours!) We try to keep open doors, and offer respite to folk who need it. We use the many rooms for all sorts of different things, and for us, the house is a blessing through which we seek to bless others.
In our town there are many issues over boundaries and access to property. Our house is accessed over a rough track that goes over land owned by another property. This is no problem of itself- there are laws that deal with ‘kith and carriage’, and the requirement to maintain people’s rights of access. Our house was built in 1840, and used to be a hotel- so these are not new issues!
But there will always be some for whom this becomes a problem. We were unfortunate enough to have one of these people moving into the property over which we accessed our house. He decided that he did not like other people using his lane, and did everything he could to try to make it difficult for us, our visitors, and the other people who live up the lane.
He narrowed the entrance, and put in huge speed bumps that damaged cars. He refused to cut away obstructive trees. He blocked the lane with vehicles and refused to let our visitors in or out. He set his dog loose, and laughed when it attacked me.
Neighbours got involved in pitched battles with him, in which he threatened violence. Police and solicitors were involved. We tried our best to stay out of it all. We tried to build a relationship with him, and to speak to his wife and his young son, who would scurry on by. We worried about what sort of life they were leading in the midst of all this aggression and anger.
But living with this eats away at you. Finding a position of love and forgiveness in the shadow of such unpleasantness- this is hard.
It was a great relief to us when he moved away, to a more isolated location up country.
But this being a small town, I keep bumping into him, or his wife. He glares, and I seethe a little.
I need some Holy Spirit help… perhaps yet there will be an opportunity to show something of Jesus…
One thing that happened a couple of days ago though,was that we received a solicitors letter informing us that half of the house next door had been built on our land. It was asking us if we would give consent for the boundaries to be re-drawn.
It was an easy decision to make, and felt very good.