I was part of a conversation the other day. A bunch of clergy were talking about church politics. As an aside one would think we’d have better things to talk about, but there you are! At any rate there was a comment about a sister denomination’s national meeting coming up in the summer.
The comment regarded brothers and sisters in Christ who did not share the speaker’s theological, Biblical, and general perspectives. He basically indicated that whoever didn’t share his perspectives were expendable! Not only to that particular denomination, but also to the church and more pressingly to the kingdom!
I came away from that conversation with a heavy heart. Not so much because it involved another denomination and their fellowship or lack thereof. But because I began to reflect upon how I relate to others who do not share my views, perspectives, or practice!
In my reading and responding to the Biblical critique and the theological journey; they do not really have anything to do with anyone else but me! As the Old Testament witness had one character ask – am I my brother’s keeper? That reference had to do with the Biblical character’s attempted evasion of God’ question about where his murdered brother was? The evasion didn’t wash with God!
The flip side of that reference would be that both Testaments make it clear that we or better put I are called to be not so much another’s keeper but neighbour to others. What is the litmus test of being neighbour to others? Clearly it is Jesus’ teaching as outlined in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In brief that parable teaches a loving care that costs each something.
That cost is expressed in the kind of love which Jesus demonstrates.
That demonstration of love calls upon me is to clean up my act through the intercession of Christ Jesus and the interaction with the Holy Spirit. Its my life, my faith, my practice that is to come under the microscope and not my neighbour’s, my brother’s, my sister’s, or my anyone else’s!
The conversation mentioned above gave me a great deal of food for thought about how I relate to others – not only in the church – but particularly in the church! I regret to say that the tendency to show the door to others lurks somewhere in my DNA alongside the powerful love of God. Perhaps not my words but my actions and body language may well give the message that others are not to let the door hit them on the way out – as the Irish used to say!
This morning in my devotional, meditation time, and prayer I was directed to Colossians 3 and particularly to Colossians 3:17. Funny how its Jesus Who is the plumb line to which all words and deeds are to be squared, and not me! That chapter calls the reader to be raised with Christ Jesus out of the muddle of our human condition into a powerful new experience of growing through liberating love and transforming grace!
That chapter refashions how Christians and the church are to relate one to another. It is rather striking that it is through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs that we are to mutually learn something anew of the ways and means of God at work in our very midst. The praise of God speaks volumes into life and the practice of the faith.
So do I make a list of those “who would clearly not be missed” a la Gilbert and Sullivan? Or do I make a prayer list that is open ended and which seeks God for me and we – not to proscribe but to intercede?! Or better put do I seek God in prayer and be open to God’s directions in a great many things – including and especially how I relate to Jesus’ many little ones?
Jesus takes it rather personally how I treat you! Can I offer you a cold drink of water in Jesus’ Name and hang out with you for His Name’s sake? I profoundly hope so!
And more to the point can I take a cold drink of water to the guy who prompted these reflections and offer it to him in Jesus’ Name?! For he too is one of Jesus’ little ones!
Blessings for the journey!