By Matt Altman
There’s a lot of talk out there about boundaries. We are taught to have healthy boundaries, to maintain a certain distance, to be guarded, and to know how to draw the line. Now, don’t get me wrong….in the right context, boundaries are great. They are needed. They are wise.
One of the primary purposes of a boundary is to limit accessibility. Boundaries do two things: they keep things out, and they keep things in. In other words, they separate. We have physical boundaries in our neighborhoods called fences. Wisdom says, “Fences are good. They define what’s mine and what’s yours.” They help maintain responsibility. We aren’t supposed to cross these boundaries without permission. Fences keep out the angry Pomeranian next door from crossing into your yard and chewing on your prized lawn furniture.
When we moved into our house last fall, we were so excited to be in a neighborhood again. We had spent the last year-and-a-half living on 10 acres, isolated from community, without any real neighbors. We bought a house in Lexington that had become known as the “empty house” in our neighborhood after sitting vacant for about 18 months. As we began unloading the moving truck, a couple of little faces appeared at our back fence….one of those short, quaint, spaced picket type of fences. Our 7-year old daughter saw those faces and said, “Dad! Look, we have neighbors! Can I go meet them?” I walked over with her and we met our neighbors. Standing across the fence from each other, we engaged in typical introductory conversation.
It didn’t take long before our daughter recognized that their daughter was about the same age. “Can I play with her?” was the more pressing question of the moment. As I looked at the fence between us, I lifted my daughter up over it and set her down in our neighbors’ back yard. Then it hit me….What if I just remove some fence slats between us and allow our kids to travel freely between the two yards? (They don’t have pets, and neither do we, so we were both good with it. Plus it would be safer than trying to climb over a very sharp picket fence.)
A physical and symbolic boundary had just been taken down. And since that moment, we have greater access to our neighbors and they have greater access to us.. We’ve had more opportunities to connect. Our kids have naturally connected as well. We know their story and they know ours.
All because we were willing to reconsider our boundaries.
So, here are a few questions I’d like to leave with you….
1) Have you considered the existing boundaries between you and your neighbors?
2) Are those boundaries wise? Or are they just convenient?
3) Could those boundaries be re-evaluated, recalculated, and put into a new context?
Jesus Christ, the ultimate boundary-crosser, did not allow His divinity to keep Him from crossing into our humanity. As we seek to model Him, I pray that we would be bold (and wise) boundary-crossers. For the glory of God and His kingdom.