If God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, then who am I? Could I stand in God’s way?
It seems to me that the Christian church is so polarized today. We are divided in denominations, ethnic groups, political ideology, and theological position, just to name a few. I understand that some of these “divisions” are part of the diversity of being human. We have our ways of thinking, acting, and doing, and our churches reflect those.
What bothers me is the constant negative criticism, finger pointing, and judgment as to which “group” is right, is the faithful carrier of the Christian tradition.
Reading through Acts reminds me that this is not the first time that the Christian church has struggled with this issue. In fact some of the early decisions of the church could guide us today as we seek to be one, to be many, and to be faithful.
At the core of the decision making was a discernment about the common Spirit that the Christian church claimed as the mark of the believing community. This common Spirit was known by the fruits of the believers in a place. Were they proclaiming the Lordship of Christ? Were they agents of healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation? Was love a guiding principle?
The fruit spoke of the Spirit’s presence and it spoke of the need for unity. This unity did not mean uniformity. Not all Christians were going to look the same, worship identically, follow the same rituals, or speak the same language. Their presence as a diverse community across the known world spoke of the diversity of God’s own creation and work among people beyond the Jewish community.
I wonder if we could commit not to see each other in an us and them way?
We are going to have disagreements. After all we are different people with different experiences but have found a common Lord and have claimed him as our own. I guess my hope is that we can disagree without demonizing the other or putting into doubt another’s faith in Jesus Christ, in the importance of Scripture, and in the commitment to God’s kingdom.
In hoping for this way of being together, am I being naive, a fence rider, or uncommitted? I don’t think so, I just don’t think there’s an us and them, but only an us, but I’m willing to hear differently . . .