Remember when you got your first colouring book and crayons or coloured pencils? They came with one simple rule: Stay within the lines. Even though it’s been a long time since most of us picked up a Crayola we continue to follow that rule religiously: Stay within the lines.
We like to keep things within the thick, black lines we have drawn around the many parts of our lives. Staying within the lines is the only way to make sense out of the complexities and complications we confront every day. Stay within the lines.
Simple. Clear. Safe. Everything in its place. Everything in its designated compartment. Stay within the lines.
Our days are sectioned off into spaces on our calendar, whether paper or electronic. Keep on schedule. Stay within the lines.
We’ve even drawn lines around what we believe. There’s business. There’s politics. There’s morality.
“Yes, that’s a fine and noble ideal, but this is business.”
“The Church shouldn’t be involved in that — that’s a political issue.”
“Yes, that’s the right thing to do, the best thing for everyone — unless you’re talking about my child, my job, my neighbourhood.” Stay within the lines.
Oh, of course we believe in God. We consider ourselves Christians and Gospel people. Every Sunday morning. That’s God’s place. That’s God’s time. After all, you have to stay within the lines.
But the truth is that God transcends the lines we’ve drawn and the boundaries we’ve set up in order to keep on top of the many different aspects of our lives. God calls us to realize his hand in all things, his Spirit making all things whole and good, his vision of us as a human family united in his peace, justice and mercy.
Martin Luther King said: “Cowardice asks the question, Is it safe? Expediency asks the question, Is it political? Vanity asks, Is it popular? But conscience asks the question, Is it right? There comes a time when one must take a position that’s neither safe, nor political, nor popular, but he must make it because his conscience tells him that it is right.”