The challenge came from my younger brother. “Bet you can’t walk it all the way around.”
Now, I’ll say at the onset that I’m not particularly competitive. Usually, the type of dare he would give me wouldn’t even cause me to think twice. But, this one was different. It was a little bit more than intriguing. Could I actually make it all the way around, I thought.
He was referring to the top rail of a five rail fence that surrounded the corral where our dairy cows jostled, pushed and shoved each other around in order to be the next in line to find relief in the milking parlor. That fence was five and a half feet high and stretched over two hundred feet in total length and width. Half that length was a cinch, I mused. The top rail of that section was a new addition to the paddock and sported a top rail constructed from used ‘bridge plank’; the kind of board that was ten inches wide and three inches thick. Laid on edge, it provided easy footing for the feet of a young lad wanting to pluck his suspenders and boast of an easy walk around. But, the other half of the fence was different.
The remaining part of the fence, the older part, consisted of six inch creosoted posts spaced eight feet apart and 1×6 top rails that were only 3/4 inch thick. Combined with a total board length of eight feet, those top boards provided an ‘interesting’ wobble for the feet of those boys who wanted to walk across the top of them and, let’s say, show off a little.
Humility/reality requires that I admit to failure…my first try. Once outdone by the fence, I became determined to ‘master’ it. If memory serves me right, it took ten tries before I successfully navigated the entire length. By the time victory was mine, success was experienced most every ‘trip up’ until finally, I could walk the top board all the way around anytime I tried. Oh, the thrill of victory.
Now you may be wondering what in the world this has to do with spiritual matters. Well, simply this. In 2 Corinthians 6:11-13, the Apostle Paul urges his readers to ‘widen your hearts also [for me]’.
In Corinth, Paul had a few antagonists. Some questioned his Apostleship. Some didn’t like the sounds of his admonitions. Others liked OTHER church workers better. All in all, the relationships were somewhat strained. This was disconcerting to Paul, who often pleaded for unity and mutual cooperation among church brethren. Philippians 4:2 and following for example.
His inspired solution to the dilemma was to appeal to the Corinthians to ‘widen their hearts so relationships could more easily develop without the risk of failure’. Church health increases where love is ‘broad enough’ to insure a successful balance of all the natural differences in believer’s spiritual gifts and personalities.
God doesn’t intend that we all be alike. But, He prefers that our love be broad enough to accommodate all the unique Godly differences of people in relationship together and provide each one with the security to walk in Christ without fear of rejection or retaliation. It is so much better for the church to ‘widen its hearts to each other’ so everyone can securely walk together in Christ and so the world can tell that we are God’s children.
Let’s widen our hearts.