Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.Romans 12:9-16
I have been thinking a lot about “The Church” lately. It’s probably because this week marks nine years since Rebekah started her work as senior pastor at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church, and I tend to get reflective around anniversaries.
Another factor working on my consciousness is the excellent editorial I read a few days ago by Rev. Will Willimon, addressing the growing move toward schism in the United Methodist Church. He talked – essentially – about how unnecessary division is, and how damaging it is to our witness to the beautiful, wide-open, invitational love of God.
It also occurred to me that the majority of splits in the Christian Church are (apart from being markedly un-Christian) essentially bogus, false-flag operations – nothing to do with following the teachings of Jesus and fraught with falsehood, misinformation, and dishonesty.
Another scripture comes to mind, and I find it especially helpful as it sets up one of my most favorite Bible references, Paul’s description of “The fruit of the Spirit.”
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.Galatians 5
Factionalism, listed right there with immorality, witchcraft, hatred, drunkenness and more.
If we want to see a return to civility in this country, and be a nation where we can hold on to this good thing we have, where we can celebrate the love of freedom we all have in common, then a good place to start would be to follow Jesus when we’re at church!
Jesus put it all on the line, went willingly to the cross, and then left the completion of his work in the hands of a ragtag fellowship of men and women because he believed in this fundamental idea: “The world will know that my message is true when they see how much you love one another” (John 17).
Our politics may be all over the map, we may come at many social issues from widely different points of view, and our doctrinal preferences probably don’t always line up too neatly. But we all love Jesus, and we have all accepted God’s invitation to come home, and we are all in church to worship God. What else really matters on a Sunday morning?
Peace to you all; let’s worship together – DEREK