After a couple of decades of the very popular teaching on healthy boundaries, I’m wondering, have we become so good at setting healthy boundaries that we have lost the ability to love and disciple people?
There have been broken down walls. People need help putting an end to abusive relationships. People need help knowing what an abusive relationship looks like. There has been a need for the teaching on boundaries. But, has the pendulum swung too far in that direction?
We need teaching on boundaries, but we are a people of extremes aren’t we!
Loving relationships require close proximity and vulnerability. They require a willingness to risk for the benefit of building trust. They require openness and honesty. Without these there is no relationship. There is only superficial acquaintance.
Jesus never said make acquaintances. He said, make disciples, Matthew 28:19.
Discipleship requires relationship.
Discipleship requires close relationship. It requires the willingness to spend ourselves in order to benefit others. There is a cost. For Jesus it was the Cross.
Are we going to balk at the price He asks us to pay?
This is where the pendulum can swing too far. The cost is uncomfortable and we don’t really want to spend ourselves to benefit others, we’d rather benefit ourselves, so we erect boundaries claiming they keep us healthy. Often only serving to keep us at a very healthy distance from the people we have been called to do life with. It’s here we allow boundaries to foster in us a false sense of self-confident righteousness, I’m keeping myself healthy, so I can do even more for the kingdom. We can sound so spiritual…
A problem exists when the only more being done is further separation from people. Our boundaries afford us many excuses as we fool ourselves into thinking Godly wisdom is erecting boundaries, even when our boundaries contradict the Word of God that says, love your neighbor as yourself, Luke 10:26.
If we are not lovingly pouring ourselves out in relationship, love for people is not really in our hearts. There is a somewhat love. A talk about love. It’s a nice idea. We may even really want to love, deeply, but not know how–sometimes out of a deep-rooted fear of what that may require of us; God does require of us.
Clearly, I am not saying lay down and take abuse from all sides. If you are reading this and went there, you just prove my point above, we are a people of extremes.
I am saying don’t go to the extreme and think every person is an abuser trying to take advantage–they are not. But what distrust exists in our hearts when we create boundaries just to make sure our cynical suspicions aren’t proved right.
The Cross came with a sacrifice that knew no boundary. It was to reunite us to God in incredible intimacy and mend our broken relationships with people, reuniting intimacy there too. Just as Jesus’ life was lovingly and sacrificially poured out, we have been asked to do the same. This is what builds intimacy and closeness in human relationships.
We have to get close. We have to get personal. We have to be vulnerable. We have to be honest. We have to listen. We have to be willing to get to know and truly understand people–not quickly judge and put down. We have to be willing to get our hands dirty. We have to risk being hurt, and be willing to risk again and again, because sincerely loving and discipling people requires it. Being united in relationship with people the way God wants us to be requires it.