Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tearing Down the Walls

by Brian Kaylor

"Humans ares specialists in building walls," Baptist World Alliance President John Upton noted last week. "We are spectacular at dividing and subdividing and subdividing into more and more little pieces."

Upton offered his assessment in his BWA President's Report at the recent Executive Committee meeting of the BWA. I had the opportunity to represent Churchnet at that meeting on the Communications Advisory Committee, and Churchnet Executive Director Jim Hill represented Churchnet on the Promotion and Development Advisory Committee. The Baptist General Convention of Missouri, of which Church is a ministry, is a full-member body of the BWA.

Upton, who spoke at the 2012 Churchnet Annual Gathering, noted in his report last week that as BWA president he had traveled to visit various Baptist groups around the world. In his travels, he noticed Hadrian’s Wall in England, the Berlin Wall in Germany, the wall Israelis built to separate themselves from the Palestinians, and the U.S.’s wall on our southern border. He also noted that the only human object that astronauts could see from space is the Great Wall of China.

"It is like our signature across the planet - a wall," Upton added wryly.

Yet, Upton's report was not about the need to tear down these physical walls as much as the need to destroy social and relational walls.

"Think of all those walls that may not be so huge to the visible eye but are just as real," he explained. "I mean walls like racial walls, cultural walls, political walls, economic, educational, generational, international, regional, tribal, religious, and, of course, denominational and theological walls."

These many walls are the types of walls the BWA is seeking to tear down. Just meeting together last week helps. As I met on the Communications Advisory Committee, I chatted with six other communicators representing several different Baptist denominations from different countries. As we talked, we learned more about each other and shared our unique perspectives. This process of coming together to talk helps break down barriers. Then at lunch, Baptists from across the world fellowshipped together, helping remove even more divisions. There is something special about eating with others, like it is a form of communion. The BWA also works through various projects and initiatives to further tear down walls that too often divide us. 

It is not good for us to be alone. In Genesis this verdict in the biblical narrative brings about Eve to join Adam. Similarly, we in the body of Christ need one another. We need to tear down the walls. The Churchnet Annual Gathering next month is one effort to accomplish this mission. We will gather together across racial, geographic, denominational, and other lines. We will unite to share hope.

Tearing down walls is actually a holy project. As Upton noted in his report last week, Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:14: "Christ is our peace, he has made us one and he has broken down the dividing wall." May it be so!

You can contact Brian Kaylor, Churchnet Editorial Assistant, at (888) 420-2426 ext. 704 or at

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