Scot 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 good…but also the bad…of our day-to-day. We can simply carry on without thinking…never 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 are…different, 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.