What Draws us Together…

I was driving up to Buckhead today to meet with a friend of mine who was in town from California for a few days.  I used to work for Scott at a Presbyterian church out there, and since then we have developed a great friendship, even if it is somewhat infrequent.

Often, as I drive I look around at the buildings surrounding my car–I’m more intrigued by architecture than I am knowledgeable concerning it–and today received a bit of a revelation in my gazing.  As I pulled up to the red light, there was  large, brick church building to my left that looked like it was probably one of those churches that fills up with stuffy rich people every sunday.  I located the church sign and (this is about to get confessional) my attitude toward the people who (in my mind) inhabit the pews was immediately set: “BAPTIST”

I don’t know what it is about that word … maybe it’s the people I knew in high school who were associated with that word … but in my head I had quickly decided that those were Christians who really didn’t get it (I told you this was getting confessional).  I figured that they were probably close-minded, elitist, insensitive, old-people along with all their brainwashed children … then I shifted my gaze from the sign back to the building itself.

There on the wall facing my car were five stained glass windows with five different scenes: Jesus at the Table with his disciples; Jesus in Gethsemane; Jesus carrying his cross up the hill; Jesus on that same Cross; Jesus, alive and outside of the tomb.

And I was suddenly made aware of my ironic sinfulness:

I am close minded

I am elitist

I am exclusivist

I am certainly going to teach my children what I believe to be right

But our reality is that no matter how fractured we may appear as a body, we are unified in our depravity, and more importantly, we are unified in Christ at the table where we are undeservingly invited to dine with Jesus as well as with other disciples who deny and betray our savior.  We are unified in Christ on the cross, where even thieves are promised paradise and mockers are prayed for and forgiven.  We are unified in Christ in the resurrection, where we find hope in Jesus as the first-fruits of God’s plan for all of creation.  And even though we are splintered, we are unified in Christ as members of the holy catholic church because it is Christ who established the church.

My friend Scott works for a church that stands on the other side of a fight within our denomination … as matter of fact, most everyone who has had a significant impact on my spiritual development is on the other side of this fight.  And yet, they are my brothers and sisters and mothers.  We are one family and I am united to each one of them, not by our shared rightness, but by our shared Lord and Table.

I am thankful for the Baptist Church and for its windows; for my Baptist classmates and professors who have allowed me to begin redeeming my ideas of that title; for my brothers and sisters and mothers of all expressions of faith who share in the ongoing work of Christ in our world.  I’m certain that we will continue to fight, but I hope that we can hold one another to identifying first as family; loving and respecting one another in the name of Christ, who was given without prejudice for the redemption of all.

 

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~ by Will Norman on April 6, 2011.

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