A friend of mine has owned a home here in our community for many years. Recently, she and her husband painted their exterior in rich earth tones and enhanced their landscaping. When you drive by, you immediately notice how nice their home looks. This past month, their neighbor also decided to beautify his home. He worked for weeks on a complete makeover of the exterior. And then came the paintâ€¦
Neon orange and lime green are the best I can do to describe the colors–the house is vibrant, electric, and probably glows at night. In the words of my friendâ€™s husband, â€œIt looks like a cartoon house! â€œ And heâ€™s right. If you drive down the street this is certainly the one house you will not miss!
I heard last week that my friend who lives next to this house had said: â€œI just donâ€™t want to leave the house anymore, because when I come back home I have to see it.â€
I was thinking about how this feels a lot like what Bonhoeffer calls, â€œLife Together.â€ There are people who are like that house: bright, bold, foreignâ€”ultimately, different than us. But we like OUR color scheme; OUR style; OUR way of looking at the world. And sometimes peopleâ€™s colors can clash so badly with our own carefully chosen palette that we choose to stay inside so as not to be reminded that they exist.
Maybe this is why so many housing developments have restrictions and a carefully chosen menu of what colors homeowners can choose from. Maybe this is why so many people are attracted to living in those kinds of places–and abandoning those where you can’t legislate your neighbor’s taste. Maybe this is why churches struggle so hard to bring together people of different cultural backgrounds; or why they don’t.