Saturday, November 24, 2012

My Dream

"As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in Thanksgiving."  Colossians 2:6-7

These are great words to live by.  Be rooted in Jesus.  Let Jesus be your guide.  Live as you have been taught by Jesus to live.  To me that means to live peacefully, fearlessly, compassionately, humbly, simply, lovingly, generously, gratefully.

Last week had me thinking about some of the things I would like to change about Christianity.  I wish Christianity was more Christ-like.  I imagined saying as Martin Luther King, Jr., did on the march to Washington to end segregation, "I have a dream..."  Only I would say...

I have a dream...

that one day Christianity will no longer be seen as a religion of beliefs and creeds but as the way of loving our neighbor and ourselves in truth that can be found among all peaceful people;

that the word of God will be known as always available and timeless, guiding people today, and into the future, like it guided people in the past;

that no Christian will use the Bible to prove themselves right and their neighbor wrong, but only to understand themselves and their neighbor better;
that "church" will not be thought of as a set of buildings to maintain, but will be any gathering of people for fellowship, service, and the sharing of God's word;

that each one of us will treasure our unique gifts and value the different opinions of others as necessary for learning and growth, according to God's will, not as cause for distance or separation; 

and, that no one will see themselves as greater or lessor than another, but all as equal beloved children of God.

Am I naive?  Well, as my Pastor's bumper sticker reads, ala John Lennon, "I may be a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."

Rob Bell writes in "Love Wins" that "God's purpose ... is 'to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.'  Unity.  To all things.  God is putting the world back together and God is doing this through Christ. ...  This is for everyone.  Jew and Gentile.  Everyone.  Not just any one tribe. ... Jesus is bigger than any one religion.  He didn't come to start a new religion, and he continually disrupted whatever conventions or systems or establishments that existed in his day.  He will always transcend whatever cages and labels are created to contain and name him, especially the one called 'Christianity'."  (pgs 148, 150-1)  I loved Bell's book, but especially this part, because it emphasizes the unity of the world that God desires and the universality of Christianity.

This last week I also stumbled upon Langdon Whitsitt's "Open Source Church," and found another way of saying the same thing.  Whitsitt writes that the gospel of Jesus is about freedom.  Guided by Martin Luther's  insight that a Christian is "free, subject to none", and also "a servant, subject to all", Whitsitt writes, "To proclaim Jesus Christ is to proclaim freedom and to proclaim freedom is to proclaim Jesus Christ.  ...God has freely given all people the gospel so that we might all have abundant life. one can claim to speak unequivocally for God or offer the last word on biblical interpretation. ...we will never consider ourselves to be in possession of the original, correct, or sole understanding of Christ's person or work....any expression of faith is not limited by our current understanding but remains open to whatever it is God might reveal to us in the future...the freedom promised in Christ's gospel does not depend upon a particular understanding of that theology.  Freedom is freedom, whether one has their theology 'correct' or not."  (pgs 20-29)  This last thought is important.  We live in a very diverse world.  We can either keep fighting, trying to force other people to think like us, or we can figure out how to embrace our diversity, and learn from it what we need to learn.

Langdon Whitsitt writes powerfully about diversity:  "When it comes right down to it, diversity is not something that we as Christians attend to because it's the nice thing to do.  We don't seek it out because it's politically correct.  We don't -- or shouldn't -- concern ourselves with it because we feel compelled.  We don't do it simply because we think Jesus told us to -- because our reading of the Scriptures begs for diversity in the church.  No, the reason Christians attend to the ideal of diversity is that it is a necessary component in achieving the work that God has created, called, and gathered us together to accomplish.  We do diversity because we will fail in our calling from God if we do not.  When we do not attend to diversity (in as many forms of it as we can conceive), we make vital mistakes in our ministry and mission."  (pg. 92)

To me, unity in the midst of diversity is what Christianity is all about:  how to love your neighbor -- who is so different from you -- as you would be loved; and how your own life must change in order to accomplish that.

Jesus' way, the way of peace, generosity, compassion, is God's way.  It is THE way....wherever this way may be found:   amongst Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, amongst atheists, and agnostics, etc.  This is the way of abundant life, the way life is meant to be lived. 

Dear God, please help me to be fearless and humble both, help me to live more simply and more generously,  in all areas of my life.  Focus my compassion on those in need, and fill me with thanksgiving at every moment of my life.  Love always, Pam

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