Every Sunday, inadvertently — or not so — maybe, Christians remind our community that we are divided.
We meet in different locations, follow varied (extra-biblical) practices and sometimes preach against each other.
I don’t think this is what Christ had in mind.
According to the Apostle John, after washing the disciples’ feet and sharing the Last Supper with them, seemingly immediately after, Jesus says, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
It is interesting to note that soon after encouraging his followers to love and serve one another, Judas separates from the other disciples and betrays Christ, Peter, alone, denies Christ and his followers, and James and John display a loathsome “air of superiority.”
I am not advocating churches abandon their distinctness nor capitulate on essentials, but I am encouraging the “Christian Community” to continually find ways to come together and cooperate whenever possible – that all men may know that we are his disciples. This is the Gospel without words.
This past week, our Mennonite community experienced a tragedy in the untimely death of a 16-year-old that drowned in the Yampa River.
Numerous local churches reached out with love, offering their condolences. Several churches offered the use of their facilities, others loaned chairs, and many Christians opened their homes to accommodate the 500 or so family and friends from around North America who came here to attend the funeral.
This is typical of our Christian community when tragedy befalls one of our churches.
Our church had the distinct pleasure of hosting the viewing and funeral service for the Mennonite community. We did not see this as an opportunity to debate or even acknowledge our differences.
Rather, it provided an opportunity to celebrate our shared hope of the resurrection for those who repent, believe in and receive Jesus Christ as Lord.
During the construction of our new addition last year, a local church took a special offering for our project while in the midst of their own financial struggle.
Most churches in our area participate at some level in Love INC, the Craig Ministerial Alliance and the Chaplain Program for law enforcement, as well as initiating frequent spontaneous acts of benevolence and service.
Unity and cooperation are alive and well here.
It has been said that Christians should follow this principle: “In matters of faith unity, in matters of opinion liberty, and in all things charity.”
This statement can be little more than a meaningless platitude, or it can be wonderful discipline — a display of the “new” commandment Jesus spoke of, as we have seen it practiced here repeatedly in our community.