I’m sure it had to be a funny sight. Driving down the street of the ordinarily quiet neighborhood and seeing the two young boys sitting on the curb shoulder to shoulder, holding hands, with a look of disgust on their faces. What had started out as a harmless game of basketball in the driveway between the two jovial brothers who are almost five years apart ended up as a brawl that resembled an Ultimate Fighting Championship and landed the now loathing brothers on the curb in front of their house holding hands in an effort to resolve their differences.
I’m not endorsing the parenting method but I gave up running for the “Father of the Year” award many years ago. Those two boys are now 18 and 14 and have a remarkably close relationship. One that their mom and I are very proud of except for times when it teams up against us. But when they were younger they would fuss and fight all the time and that often landed them in the precarious position of sitting shoulder to shoulder, holding hands until they settled their differences. Here’s what I noticed whenever that happened – it didn’t take long for their irritation at each other to turn into irritation at their situation and they would quickly find the determination to resolve their differences.
It’s a great life lesson: the first step to getting along is working with one another, not against one another. Can the world just stop and spend some time sitting on the curb shoulder to shoulder, holding hands? Jesus did that. In John 4, Jesus meets a woman at a well. Jesus engages the woman in conversation – an astonishing break from culture and tradition. For a couple of reasons. One, the woman was a Samaritan. Racial tensions between the Samaritans and the Jewish people ran high and a Jew would never have interacted with a Samaritan. And for the double whammy, she was a woman. In first century culture, men did not randomly interact with women. Yet, Jesus engaged in conversation with her. Despite their differences. Despite their culture’s irritation with each other. Despite their people’s past and current conflict. That conversation led to the woman putting her faith in Jesus and many in her village did as well. All because Jesus initiated the conversation.
What would happen if we got bold enough to simply engage in conversation with those we are in conflict with? To those who are different from us? To sit across the table from each other and not debate our irritation with each other but our irritation with the situation and find the determination to resolve our differences? With our spouse. Our boss. Our coworker. Our church. Our friend. Our enemy.
Can we just stop and spend some time sitting on the curb shoulder to shoulder, holding hands? I encourage you to join one of our “Bridge to Racial Unity” groups beginning September 11th. I know it can be scary to launch into the unknown abyss of these conversations. It takes brave people to initiate these conversations. Jesus did it and calls you to do the same. Join us in welcoming diversity and healing into our community and world.
Sign up here: http://aldersgatelive.org/bridge