Here’s another occasional entry from the book I’m writing called “The Journey: A Traveling Companion through the New Testament.” It’s from the book of Galatians. Enjoy.
A number of years ago, I found a fantastic house to buy! It was a refinished vintage Denver Square with polished-to-a-sheen wood throughout, a second-floor deck, a lovely kitchen, and updated systems. It was in a 90% black neighborhood…and we’re white. So, I decided to visit the neighbor next door to ask her about my situation. I knocked on her door, introduced myself, and asked her what she thought about having a white neighbor. It was awkward but she was super gracious and said, “Hey, as long as you keep your yard looking nice, it’s fine with me.”
That story reminds me of Galatians 2:1-10. Paul was called to preach to the Gentiles, which was a diversion from the original outreach, i.e., going to the Jews. And there was that issue about circumcision. (Should the Gentile converts be circumcised like the Jews?) It was awkward. So, with fear and trepidation, Paul visited the pillars of the Church. Would he be accepted?
Yes! They “extended the right hand of fellowship to him.” They were gracious and said, “Hey, as long as you remember the poor, it’s fine with us.”
Some things are so important. Keeping our yards looking nice. Remembering the poor. Treating each other with deep respect.
Which reminds me of another story. My friend Judy tells about watching her husband iron his shirt. He was using the big end of the ironing board. She pointed out that you’re “supposed” to use the small end of the ironing board. Then he pointed out the merits of the big end. They laughed and realized that neither end was wrong, just different.
Some things ARE wrong, but I think we should differentiate between what’s wrong and what’s just different. Race, gender, some aspects of politics—there’s such lovely diversity in these things, and in our polarized times, it’s important to unite as often as we can.
So hey, if you use that other end of the ironing board, it’s fine with me.