Manufactured lines of division seem to cross, gouge and angle through every interaction of the fabric of humanity. Whether through ability, race, culture, sexual orientation, gender identity…any way we see difference someone already has rushed to mark a superior and inferior, an included and excluded and above or below. And as much as we see it today in the news or around us, it is important for us to remember that this is not something new. No, sadly, this is nowhere near the first time in history we have been so dramatically forced to be concerned about the lines of division drawn between us.
It was in the church too and pretty much right at the beginning. You see, barely had the Spirit finished its Pentecost work of uniting people across languages and cultures when the infant church began to view the inclusion of Gentiles (non-Jewish people) with great suspicion. “Sorry” they said with shrugged shoulders and disapproving eyes, “the Law says. It’s clear. It says it right there in the Lord’s word…we can’t associate with you. We can’t dine with you, and we sure can’t be seen with you.” (This is only a slight paraphrase.)
It was a clear moment of choice for the church. But, in this clear moment of having to choose between Law and Spirit, perhaps we can’t blame them for almost choosing the easy choice. The choice which seemed most stable and reliable. The one printed in black and white and passed down for centuries on hard stone. “Sorry, it says it right here.”