Is it time for you to stop building inappropriate boundaries and start mending those that are appropriate? The renewal of our minds can involve a proper understanding of fences. So let me explain…
Merriam-Webster defines fence as “a barrier intended to prevent escape or intrusion or to mark a boundary (material or immaterial).” We often build such immaterial barriers to keep people from getting too close or to protect our traditions/beliefs. We often believe that the fences are more important or more powerful than the intrusion – even when justified.
I recently watched an administrator of a business spend hours adjusting plastic fences. They were identified as ‘walls.’ And these walls were to serve as barriers – not only for intrusion, but also for communication. Yes, there were ‘reasons’ given. How realistic is certainly questionable!
One problem with fences is illustrated biblically by the Pharisees. Though they were sincere, their sincerity was misplaced. Jesus once questioned them, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? …And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?” (cf. Matthew 15:1-20). What is more important?
The Pharisees attempted to extend their beliefs regarding how to keep the Law (Torah). Then they became contemptuous of those who did not keep their fine lines of compliance. At that time the ‘tradition of the elders’ became more, or at least as important as the Law. Using the concept of a fence, A.T. Robertson made this point in his Stone Lectures of 1915-1916.
“Twelve treatises in the Mishna are devoted to the complicated amplifications of the rules for ceremonial purity which tradition had added to the law. We have seen already that the rabbis placed tradition (oral law) above the written law, and claimed Divine origin for it. Rabbi Aqibah used to say: ‘Tradition is a fence to Torah.’” [1
The Question/Challenge Regarding Fences
Have you built or established boundaries that have created barriers between you and others? Are there beliefs (immaterial fences) that have been elevated above and beyond their biblical importance that are keeping you from knowing the truth? Then it is time to remove or mend some of the fences in your life!
A group known as ‘Restless Heart’ has a song titled “Mending Fences.” The chorus issues a call to action.
Time has come for mending fences; A little love, will fix things up. I know you care let’s stop pretending; We’ve been cold long enough. So heart to heart, Why don’t we start mending fences.
 A. T. Robertson, The Pharisees and Jesus: The Stone Lectures for 1915-16 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1920), 95.