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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Crossing the Line

Did you know that in the House of Commons there is a line in the carpet down each side of the chamber?

The lines are set, so I’m told, two sword lengths apart. MPs are forbidden from crossing them while debating so they can’t stab one another with their swords, should things get heated.

My mum finds this fact vastly amusing – and so very, very British. The idea that the leaders of our country might be willing to attack each other with swords, but not willing to step over a line on the carpet is, when you think about it, quite ridiculous.

Yet lines have power. They provide both constraints (remember those school handwriting exercises?) and freedom – it is the lines on a sheet of music that transform a scattering of dots into a soaring symphony. Crossing a line can get you a parking ticket or a gold medal. It can win you a rugby match or lose you a tennis tournament. Or it can bring hope to the world.

Last week, Kim Jong-un crossed a line, and in doing so raised the hopes of millions of people. He shook the hand of South Korean leader Moon Jae-in, then stepped across the low stone border and became the first North Korean leader to set foot in South Korea for 65 years.

Lines, whether arbitrary or reasonable, fought over by armies or erected subtly over the course of decades, drawn on maps, or buried in hearts, can keep us apart from one another. They can make us enemies, or perpetuate our enmity. Words can go a long way towards healing rifts and bringing peace, but most of the time true unity can only be achieved by crossing lines.

When we see pain and division around us, we need to be willing to cross the emotional, social and cultural lines that keep us apart from one another. This might mean meeting our neighbours and crossing the road into their lives. It might mean crossing the lines around our families and becoming a foster or adoptive parent. It might mean taking the gospel to people across national borders, or crossing the office to talk to the person who always eats lunch alone.

If Jesus could cross the line between heaven and earth to be reconciled with us, what lines might he be asking us to cross as we serve him?


Jennie Pollock
Jennie is a freelance writer and editor who lives in London and worships at Grace London. She blogs at jenniepollock.com


Jennie Pollock


  1. Wonderful Jennie. Thank you. Creative and thought provoking

    By Magdalen Smith  -  4 May 2018
  2. Excellent piece Jennie. Goes to heart of our missional identity in Jesus. Thank you.

    By Paul Valler  -  4 May 2018
  3. Thank you, Jennie.
    A thought-provoking and inspirational piece. May we be given courage through the Holy Spirit to take the first step.

    By Louise Bale  -  4 May 2018
  4. Well thought out. Thank you.

    By Brian  -  4 May 2018
  5. Well said.

    By Angela Somerton  -  4 May 2018
  6. This is a brilliant piece, Jennie
    Profound yet easy to read.
    Thank you
    Hope there will be more in future.

    By Rob  -  4 May 2018
  7. Well constructed and thought provoking!

    By Arthur Bates  -  4 May 2018
  8. Thank you.

    By Maureen  -  4 May 2018
  9. I a man using this to base a 5 minute talk to a group of is who provide a free lunch on the first Friday of the month to anyone passing by ur church doors.
    We have a pre lunch meet with a 5 minute talk and prayer.
    ‘Crossing the Line’ will really help me today as I ask that we all make an effort to short the love of our Lord Jesus to all who enter into our church today, whether clean or unclean, sober or drunk, a friend or a stranger.
    So thank you for your wise words.

    By anthea ferguson  -  4 May 2018
  10. Jeannie the genius!

    What a gifting the Lord has given you.

    By His lines we are healed.


    By John from Belfast  -  4 May 2018
  11. Well said!

    By Melly  -  4 May 2018
  12. Thanks Jennie, like what you have said.

    We must remember however that some lines, or boundaries, are not only important but necessary.

    There is a boundary around marriage – I know who is my spouse and who isn’t.

    There is a boundary around family – I know who is part of my family and who isn’t. (I can reprimand my own children when I cannot do so with others.)

    There needs to be a boundary between work and leisure – not just in the sense of my leaving work but also leaving work behind so that I do not think about it at home.

    Ultimately the most important boundary is the one between those who have experienced the salvation offered by Christ and those who haven’t. We must never deny the existence of this boundary – but we must help people to cross it.

    Thanks for what you have written. I hope we will hear from you again soon.

    By John Steley  -  4 May 2018
  13. The example you use re the lines in the house is also where we get the expression “Toe the Line” from, for all the reasons you mentioned.

    By Keith Peskett  -  4 May 2018
  14. Nicely put.

    By Cynthia Tews  -  4 May 2018
  15. As a foreigner, I once had the privilege to visit the House of Common (when the House was not in the House).

    There I was shown how the table across which the honorary members address eachother is also well over two sword-lengths wide – and for the same reason.

    By Arnold van Heusden  -  5 May 2018
  16. Ha! Thanks Jennie, that was a nice angle to take. Not always so easy to DO mind you. Some wise and instructive feedback too!

    By Michael  -  7 May 2018

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