Differences

anvilScot McKnight wrote this over at The Jesus Creed  the other day, in response to some words written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

Until we understand what the church is — a fellowship of sinners at different locations in a journey — we will not understand what the church could be and can be. No two Christians are perfectly compatible — in theology or praxis (process) — and therefore there will be tension in the church, which is precisely where we need to begin to see what the church is. Not a fellowship of those who agree or who are alike, but a fellowship of those who don’t agree and who are not alike.

In relationships, it is not in our similarities, but our differences, that we see the greatness of God displayed.

Being on opposite sides is what moves us to the anvil where our pride is pounded out and our humility is forged.  If we are truly followers of the Way, then treating people as Jesus would treat them is of highest importance… no matter what the issue of the moment is.

Living our lives around people who think, act, spend, drive, vote, pray, worship, and play the way we do is a big deal.  It can certainly reinforce the goodbut also the badof our day-to-day.  We can simply carry on without thinkingnever realizing the worth and value of the other side.

But when you are forced to drink from the same cup and stand side-by-side to contend for a kingdom that is greater than all your ideologies and all your preferences, with a bunch of people that aredifferent,  it is only then that you get to taste the breadth and depth of what God is doing.

Now that’s the church I want to be a part of.

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4 thoughts on “Differences

  1. Why did you leave this excerpt out?

    “Leaving the church because it does not meet our expectations is to create a church for ourselves. It is, if I may be so bold, idolatry.”

    It sounds to me unless you have relocated or one has started a church where none ever existed –
    Individuals that have left a local mega church because it is too big, and come attend NP might as well be worshipping baal.
    AND, peoples who were burned at another church and ran to attend NP, may have missed the mark as well.

    When we greet Noobs, should the first thing we ask is “Why did you leave your church?” Then say, “Go back where you came from because you have no excuse for leaving”

    Why does sending people back into “the church game” seem more Christ-like than saying,
    We love you now matter what you believe, we can hold hands and hang out together.

    1. That’s a great comment, Brandon. I agree with what Bonhoeffer wrote about reducing church to idolatry when we simply want it to meet our expectations.

      However, I have to believe there is the possibility of leaving a church for legit reasons. Sometimes, there is so much change or so much sin or such a theological shift, that it is no longer the church you bought into when you first called them your family.

      Leaving a church should never be easy. It should never be haphazard. It should not be motivated by self-centeredness. It should only be after much open and honest dialogue with the family…and numerous attempts to reconcile.
      It should be a process that takes months of hard work, prayer, study and conversation.

      Unfortunately, this kind of church separation seldom, if ever, takes place. Sad.

  2. Many moons ago, I manned up and had lunch with the Ass. Pastor. and apologized for walking away from that church and for how the church did my soon to be in-laws wrong. I think this act matured my faith more than giving a homeless person $$ or watching a Christmas Pageant.
    I don’t think non-believers would ever understand why I did this, nor would someone that rides the fence of faith.
    We live in a world of “I’ll get you back”

    It seems that my common theme anytime I post on your blog is – It’s always “me” that gets in the way of “God Greatness”. I have no other entity to blame.

    I feel like I have gone off topic from your posting, but I feel like that act of church is much more than just setting aside differences – That just seems very passive. It seems to me that at some point a church member will need to apologize for their actions. I don’t think there is a way to attend church and not have say “I am sorry” for something. Then you will see God’s greatness.

  3. What a great discussion! I frequently re-post your blog on fb, Padre. The Holy Spirit is all over this column today on “Differences.”

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