"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
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
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;
no Christian will use the Bible to prove themselves right and their
neighbor wrong, but only to understand themselves and their neighbor
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
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."
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.
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. ...no 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
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.
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