Gateway Church Austin and 20+ other churches in Austin are teaming together for an initiative to tear down the walls that hold us back from our best. These walls pit people against each other, keep neighbors distant, keep churches from working together or from serving our city. We all face walls. We all get stuck, but we don’t have to stay stuck.
I spoke at the McNeil campus and via video at the South campus.
Here are some of the main points:
“Hurt people hurt people. In our brokenness we allow our rough edges to inflict more pain on others. When we experience pain we create a fortress around our hearts thinking this will protect us from more pain but in reality we block the love we need.
We need to understand why breaking down the walls between us is so important. The reason: our relationships are spiritual. Our relationships with people affect our relationship with God and vice versa. (Matthew 22:37-40).
To become who we were meant to be means having a healthy relationship with God and a healthy relationship with people. You and I cannot truly love God unless we also love people, and let’s be honest, you and I cannot truly love people without God’s help because people can be hard to love.
Break through the wall of pain with a perspective of gratitude (2 Cor. 6:7-8). Gratitude is being thankful for what we have and not mad about what we don’t have. Too often, we would rather be right than make things right.
In the midst of conflict, Paul wrote: ‘Serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.’ Galatians 5:13-15
Even in the midst of a disagreement, those with whom we disagree are valuable. We can still respect them, listen to them, and even serve them.
There are two things that are true about every person on the planet: Everyone is loved by God, and everyone needs God. We are no better than anyone else, but we are also no less loved than anyone else.
Break through the wall of pride with humility.
If we just realized how much we have in common with others rather than focusing on our differences, we can build bridges and experience peace. This leads us to the third most common cause of the walls around our heart: prejudice. I know what you may be thinking. I’m not prejudiced! I am equally rude to everyone!
Consider for a moment: who do you overlook? intentionally or unintentionally? Maybe you have certain biases based on a person’s gender, ethnicity, background, socio-economic status, or age. Don’t believe you have any? Go to www.notlikeme.org/small-groups/ and the the assessment created by Harvard University researches called “Project Implicit.”
“When you don’t know what to do….default to love.” (Ramy at Just Love)
Stereotypes exist because friendships do not. We should never allow our convictions or experiences with others to become a litmus test for friendship. In fact, we should actively pursue friendships with people – even people with whom we may disagree, differ, or dislike.
Break through the wall of prejudice by finding common ground.
There is moment in the Scriptures when Jesus prays for you. What do you think he would pray? Maybe he would pray for protection for us from the world. Perhaps you’d think he would pray that all our dreams would come true. Here’s what He prayed:
‘My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — -I in them and you in me — -so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.’ – John 17:20 – 23
The one time in history when Jesus prayed for you and for me, he prayed that we would be unified. Our relationships with each other affect other people’s relationship with God.
Is there someone in your life that you care for that is hurting? Is there someone in your life that is disconnected from God or disconnected from community? Is there someone you love who seems to be struggling because of their lack of hope, faith, or love? You can help them. Personally serve them and dive deep into community so you aren’t alone in your efforts.
Our love for each other can prove that God is real. When we aren’t connected to a local church we miss an opportunity to help those we love. When we are connected to a local church but we only seem to see things with a critical eye or give into the normal pattern of hostility and conflict that the world experiences, we undermine our efforts to show the world God’s grace and love.
The most effective apologetic is love.
What is your next step? What does God want you to do to break down the walls in your relationships?”
To watch or listen to this message, go to www.gatewaychurch.com/podcast.
For a list of small groups in Austin and small group materials, go to www.gatewaychurch.com/walls.