We live in a world full of physical barriers. Everywhere we turn, at every level of human existence, we encounter gates, walls, fences, security systems, police forces, armies, air and naval forces. Some barriers are meant to keep undesirables out, and others are built to wall undesirables in. But in all cases there exist two realities: people will go out of their way to define what makes others different from them, and people will be consumed with fear of what is different.
It is into this fearful, mistrusting world that Jesus sends his followers to “make disciples of every nation…” (Matt 28:19), acknowledging as he does that he sends us “like sheep among wolves” (Matt 10:16). In order to fulfill this commandment of Jesus, his church will need to risk transcending the barriers that separate people from people, nation from nations—whether those barriers are physical, spiritual, or ideological. Jesus himself forgave sinners, healed the infirm and welcomed them, and was led by a Canaanite woman to grant her the gospel of love when he was tempted to dismiss her as someone “other.”
The high calling of the church is to find a way to move through the margins that divide our world, in order to bring the saving message of the gospel to all persons. As once upon a time doctors used to leave comforting confines of the hospital and make “house calls,” so now we are sent from the comfortable places in our pews to make margin calls among the people living at the borders and boundaries of our world.