Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 89:1-18; 147:1-11, Judges 13:15-24, Acts 6:1-15, John 4:1-26
Famed novelist and relapsed Catholic Anne Rice once made a splash with a series of Facebook posts declaring she was “leaving Christianity” but not Christ. Her reasons aren’t exactly groundbreaking. She found Christianity (but not Christ) intolerant, quarrelsome and disputatious. Well… yes. Gandhi supposedly said: “Your Christians are so unlike your Christ” as though that was news to us. We embark on the journey to become more Christ-like specifically because we fall short. We especially need to support each other in the journey when we can’t stand each other. Christianity as a concept or a faith cannot exist outside community.
My former pastor, who worked for years to promote fairness for the LGBT community in our city, engaged the very people Ms. Rice “quit” when she endorsed an employment fairness bill. In the name of Christ, these people demanded the council deny this bill. One council member marveled that all his hate mail all seemed to be from Christians. Also in the name of Christ, many people, including my pastor, spoke in favor of it. The following Sunday she spoke to us about the hard but necessary work of loving those who oppose us. No matter which side of an issue one falls on, praying for one’s enemies is the Christ-like response.
We barely get into the sixth chapter of Acts before the squabbling begins. When Greek Christians felt Hebrew Christians were not treating the Greek widows fairly, the Greeks didn’t pack up and quit. The Hebrews got a little indignant, but the community reached a solution. Nowhere does scripture claim Christians are without quarrels. Without quarrels, Paul’s letters might never have been written! What the gospels and epistles do provide is instruction in how to live together in covenant despite differences.
People haven’t changed much in two thousand years. Some are liberal and some are conservative. Some are traditionalists and some are experimental. Etc., etc. Most of us usually think we’re right. Christianity has never been a monolith of thought and belief. It has always been about loving our enemies – even the ones sitting next to us on Sunday.
Comfort: God made us capable of thoughtful action and reaction.
Challenge: Fact check even the claims you are inclined to agree with.
Prayer: Glorious Creator, thank you for the gift of discernment. Amen.
Discussion: How have you resolved differences with your fellow Christians?
For further reading on today’s passage from John 4, see Worship Well.
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