Jews hated Samaritans. And by the way, the Samaritans were very willing to do their part to uphold the grudge.
Pharisees despised Romans. The Romans basically ignored them–until they occasionally got a murderous urge.
Zealots fought the Legionnaires. It was an unfair battle–Rome had too many weapons.
Lepers were separated from healthy people–and not nicely, may I add.
Men hated women. Women were in bondage to men.
Merchants killed thieves. Thieves stole from merchants.
This is the scene that was in full force when Jesus of Nazareth stepped into the melee to express his voice.
What pressure was put upon him? “Pick a side.”
- The Jews got mad because he wasn’t Jewish enough.
- The Romans were unimpressed because he was raised Jewish.
- Even the Judeans and the Galileans–who were both Jewish–looked down upon one another, always pushing and shoving for predominant favor.
What did he do?
He set out repairing.
Rather than picking the Jewish side or the Samaritan side, grabbing a placard and protesting, he went to the Samaritans and to the Jews with the same message.
Rather than grabbing a sword and becoming a Zealot, his communication was that it was more important to give to the Romans what belonged to the Romans and to give to God what belonged to God.
He upset the Judeans by inviting Galileans to be his disciples.
And he really pissed off the boys from Galilee by appointing the Judean to be treasurer.
He touched lepers to heal them, which scared the hell out of his hypochondriac-followers.
And rather than submitting to a teaching arena, which was segregated for men, he blended men and women into a common camp of discovery.
You can’t repair if you’re going to insist that one side is better than another.
For instance, you will never be able to solve the problems in the Middle East if you favor the Jews over the Muslims or the Muslims over the Jews.
It is a reasonable process to go about the business of repairing. But to do it, you have to keep three things in mind:
1. Find the breach.
In other words, where has this group over here decided to hate that group over there, and how willing are you to stand between the two?
Since the black community feels persecuted by the police, and the cops feel targeted by that community, it is important for someone to stand in the middle, clean up the corruption in the police force, and teach the black community how to represent itself clearly and well in our society.
If you’re always going to try to find the victim, you’ll spend all of your time bandaging wounds instead of healing conflicts.
2. Situate yourself in the middle.
Black lives matter. Absolutely. No doubt about it.
Policemen have to make too many split-second decisions while holding life-threatening weapons. Absolutely.
Both camps need to realize the weakness and the strength of the other.
You can’t minister to Republicans if you’re a Democrat. And you sure can’t reach Democrats if you’re pounding them with the politics of Ronald Reagan.
Situate yourself in the middle where repair is needed and the breach is obvious.
3. Reach out in both directions.
Jesus found himself on the cross, nailed between two thieves, one hand reaching to the right and the other to the left. From that position, he was trying to salvage two lives which would soon be extinguished.
You can not repair if you choose to believe that one side is better than the other.
It is reasonable to go about the business of repairing.
You will have to free yourself of the unnecessary need of having an opinion on everything … and instead have a yearning to bridge the gap.