The Biggest Lie
If you were to suggest the biggest lie that churches tell, what would it be?Knowing what Jesus said and did and what Jesus prayed for, what do you think churches today are comfortable with that is a direct contradiction of the one we call Lord? Go ahead and consider your nomination. It might even be something that they give lip service to but their energy is not directed in that direction.
Here is my nomination. Out of several possibilities, I think our biggest lie, with which we have grown very comfortable, is that we demonstrate daily that we feel no urgency to be one even as Jesus and God were one. Our disunity, and our comfort with that disunity scream to the world our lack of practice of a central element of our faith. Jesus prayed in John 17:22-23 “The glory that you have given to me I have given to them, so that they may be ONE, as we are ONE, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
THE NEW COMMANDMENT
In John 13, 34-35 Jesus frames it as a new commandment. “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Now I ask you, if the world observes how the churches cannot even agree to be in relationship to one another and they fight like all the rest of the world, how are they to know that we are Christ’s disciples.
WELCOME THE STRANGER
Let’s start very close to home. I know Presbyterian pastors who make no effort to be friends with other Presbyterian pastors. Churches in the same presbytery are strangers to one another. Building on that haunting story in Luke 24:13 ff where the disciples met Jesus as they walked the road to Emmaus, Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angles without knowing it.”
I think one of the major tasks of regional church groups, presbyteries in my language but it is the same for diocese, conferences, associations, etc. is to break down the barriers between churches and build community. Let us start in our own denomination and then move on from there.
In my next blog, I’m going to suggest a simple plan for how that can be done. In the meantime, a new friendship might be only a phone call or a text away.
I invite you to subscribe to this blog and enter the conversation. We are not alone but our faith is weakened when we treat each other as strangers.