There’s an old Peanuts comic strip where Snoopy is sitting on top of his kennel typing a manuscript. Walking by, Charlie Brown says, “I hear you are writing a book about theology. I hope you have a good title.”
“I have the perfect title,” says Snoopy thoughtfully. “Has it Ever Occurred to You that You Might Be Wrong?”
It’s interesting, no matter how much we have read, thought, discussed or reflected upon truth, God’s truth is always greater. In fact, Jesus said he was the truth.
Despite the fact that only Jesus is truth, history records how often and how easy it is for some of God’s people to believe they have a monopoly on truth. Sadly, such a belief seems to breed an attitude of superiority and arrogance that lacks the graciousness to seriously consider another’s point of view. As Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels wrote, “There is none so blind as they that will not see.”
What is even sadder is how such close mindedness almost always brings division and discord between fellow Christians and churches.
Last Sunday night, churches from many different denominations across Hobart gathered together, despite our differences, to celebrate our common core belief that Jesus is Lord and to pray for our city.
I have no doubt God is pleased when we make the effort to move past the things that divide and come together on the things that unify. We can do this in the midst of our diversity and I’m sure God enjoys it. All the many different varieties of plants and animals God has created helps us appreciate how much he likes diversity. This is as true for the Church as it is for nature.
There are so many varieties of belief and practice, dress and singing, buildings and liturgy. It reminds me that Jesus prayed for unity, not unanimity. God likes our differences. In fact, in the same way that every person is unique, so too is every congregation that makes up the Church across the world.
Yet, with this diversity comes a complexity, and this complexity can be a source of great discomfort to many. We can easily be drawn to huddle together in like-minded groups for security and support. Now there is nothing wrong with joining together with others, but when the groups develop an “us” and “them” mentality where “we are right” and “they are wrong”, pain and disharmony often result.
Jesus calls us to unity. Such unity is not based on the way we worship or serve God, nor on the “purity” of our doctrine, but from our common commitment to Jesus as Lord. We are children of the same Father and are united by the same Spirit.
I pray that we will all continue to grow in our appreciation of the diversity of God’s people and that we will appreciate the breadth of God’s truth. There were close to 2,000 people present who made the effort to be part of the celebration on Sunday. And despite what might be a different cultural way of being church, we were nevertheless able to transcend the difference and worship our Lord together.
What’s your experience of coming together as Jesus’ Church?
Did you go you Church Together on Sunday? What was your response?
Stephen L Baxter