Even though there is so much that separates us from one another, I continue to believe that it is jesus who holds us together. The body of Christ is very diverse, and our diversity often leads into unhelathy conflict that keeps us from truly engaging one another. So, when we come from different backgrounds, cultures, races, and theological perspectives, can the gospel truly be the unifying agent in the church?
For most of my ministry, I have practiced the discipline of reading through the Bible in a year. This year I have changed the discipline just a bit; I am reading through the gospels. I read through a gospel a week, so that once a month I read through all four gospels. This has been an amazing experience of seeing the more complete picture of Jesus. When I have a tendency of seeing Jesus one way, this discipline has revealed the many different aspects of Jesus. He both encourages and challenges us. But I have the tendency to want to see Jesus as encouraging me and challenging the people not like me.So, again, can the good news hold us together?
I was speaking at a presbytery event on the connection between discipleship and evangelism, and I said that our starting point for the journey is the love of God in Jesus Christ. I talked about how this love of God is what brings us our deepest sense of meaning and satisfaction. When we get down to the basics of life, this is the yearning that's in all our hearts. We desire to be loved and fed. We want to know that life works out. The church is the place in which we experience the profound beauty of God's love.
After the event, a woman introduced herself to me by thanking me for breaking a stereotype. I was introduced as the Coordinator for Evangelism, and she said that she started "checking out" because she did not believe that I would have anything to say that would be helpful to her. However, she went on to say that the way I approached the gospel was very meaningful to her.
So, what if we had more conversations around God's love in Christ: that we are loved as we are, but loved way too much to be left there?