“We are one in the spirit we are one in the Lord, and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” We closed out our Maundy Thursday service with this song. All of us holding hands to signify our oneness. And in that moment, I truly desire for unity to be restored one day. A unity that binds us together in the service and love of Christ. And to put off all other difference to show the compassion and grace to the world.
I heard a sermon the other Sunday that is one that will stick with me for a long time. The pastor talked about what it means to be a Third Way church. This is a concept that our church has declared as one of its core values and one in which my husband and I really resonated with from the beginning.
It was a guest speaker and it was nice to hear another perspective on the topic and go into more depth about what it really means to live out a third way.
He opened up with talking about how anabaptists’ history is wanting to do things a third way. The Catholics were killing people and then the protestants were killing people, and anabaptists said that they didn’t want to kill. Once we got our hands on the Bible we decided that Jesus didn’t want us to kill in his name so we chose a third way.
A big part of the sermon focused on how we are called to be one body in Christ. Unified by Jesus and his death and resurrection. There are obviously so many topics on which we all disagree.
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” Philipians 2:1-2 (NIV; my emphasis added)
The speaker emphasized that Acceptance does not equal Agreement. People! We can love and accept and be kind to, and also disagree with people.
But this is the hard road. This is the uncomfortable path. The path the Jesus asks us to take is the hard, narrow, uncomfortable one.
To accept and love others even though we disagree on topics that are so important to us that we burn on the inside because we believe them so hard. There are hundreds of denominations in Christianity. We clearly have a lot of things we disagree on but what if we decided to unify? Shouldn’t we live against the culture of easy and comfortable and push ourselves to see the human being, the value of someone even if they believe different from us. And even believe that they might believe in Jesus too. Yes, I said it. If you disagree on creation vs. evolution, the other side can still believe in Jesus. If you disagree on the correct canon, the other side can still believe in Jesus. If you disagree on gay marriage, the other side can still believe in Jesus.
We are to love our enemies. Is this not a principle call from Jesus? They will know we are Christians by our love. We are also called to be one body with other Christians. They will know we are Christians by our unity.
To be honest, this call to be one body feels almost hopeless. If we haven’t been able to do it for the last 2000 years, perhaps it is actually impossible. But nevertheless, this seems to be of utmost important to God so I will try to fight (in a nonviolent way of course) for this cause to unite us as one body.
Part of this perhaps is we don’t even know what the result of being unified looks like. I’m not sure I do. There is still room for discussion and debate about out different beliefs but perhaps done with a different lense. An attitude of learning and humility vs self righteousness and unearthed fear coming out as anger. Come to think of it, Philippians 2: 3-4 gives us a good picture of this:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Is this not the hard path or what? Who is willing to join the path with me? To fight to see eye to eye on Jesus and let others things by the wayside? It’s not comfortable for sure but when did Jesus ever call us to comfort?