Each of us, whether consciously or unconsciously, have set-up boundaries in our lives. Boundaries in regards to who our friends are, boundaries in regards to who we associate with, boundaries in regards to who we interact with. Now in most cases these boundaries are healthy and good and protect us. But in some cases these boundaries can be bad. Just as the disciples didn't want to help the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21-28), we at times can limit the involvement and help we give to people who don't fit within our boundaries.
Now these boundaries can look different for different people: for some the boundary is race, for others it might be lifestyle, and still for others it might be economic level. But whatever the boundary, it keeps us from sharing the love of God and sharing our lives with others.
Like our boundaries, we live our lives with expectations. Expectations of how we are to live, and expectations of how others will live. And also like our boundaries, these expectations are often healthy, as they give us reason and direction in our life. But, there are times when our expectations might limit our response to others. For example, say I have the expectation that I need to work to make a living, and others need to work as well. But someone might come to me who needs financial help. If this person is not working, my expectation might keep me from helping them, keep me from meeting their need, because I feel that they are not helping themselves. And yet, God just might want me to go beyond my expectation to meet their needs as Jesus went beyond others expectations and helped the Canaanite woman.
It is not uncommon for a church to lose focus of what it is to be about; for a church to think that it exists for itself and its members, and forget that God calls the church to reach beyond its walls to share the love of Christ.
Example- There's a true story of a church who desired to grow, and so they got a church growth expert to come and visit their church. The first thing this church growth expert did was to walk the committee out to the parking lot and said to them: "Now, imagine that you know nothing about this church and that you have just arrived at this church on a Sunday morning for worship. Now let's go into the church." This little exercise created a different perspective for the committee as they started to think about how there were no signs to guide a newcomer.
This is just one example of how a church becomes a church for insiders, for its members, and not for outsiders, for visitors.
So here are some important questions: Are we trying to understand our community to see how we can reach out? Are we stepping out beyond our boundaries to share the love of Christ with others?
The great Russian poet Yevtushenko writes in his autobiography a powerful moment that he witnessed. It was in 1944, when 20,000 German war prisoners were marched through the streets of Moscow, wearing blood-stained bandages, and hobbling on crutches or leaning on their fellow soldiers. Then, all of a sudden a Russian woman pushes herself through a police line and stuffs a crust of bread into the pocket of an exhausted soldier. This act caused a host of other women to run up to the soldiers and begin to give them bread and other necessities they had in their hands.This story is a reminder that we have an innate sense of compassion and love to be shared. It should be even more true for the follower of Christ. We are called to break through the boundaries of race and prejudice and indifference to do our Lord's will; free the captives, love the unlovable, help the poor, preach the good news that God loves all and wants all to be saved. Tell me what you think (firstname.lastname@example.org).