Late in 2014 and early this year I was pleased to commit to two things that have been great tools for sharpening my spiritual focus. The first was writing this column and the second was becoming involved in Community Bible Study where there is daily homework and weekly gathering in a small core group. These were added to a long-standing and meaningful Wednesday morning time with prayer partners at church. The flexibility of a part-time job allows me the privilege to participate in these things.
An unexpected fruit of one of these commitments has been getting to know a particularly fine woman. We share the basics of the Christian faith but actually have a few marked differences in how we interpret the Bible. These differences are such that with other people I might almost have been tempted to write them off as too removed from my way of “orthodox” thinking. When I witness this woman’s obvious love for God and the way that she humbly lives out her faith I know that we are truly sisters in Christ. While I still have a difficult time understanding how she arrived at certain biblical conclusions this should not be a barrier. Instead, we focus on the remarkable truths that bind us together. This relationship has shed new light on how understanding Christians should be of each other.
I am more convinced than ever of the danger of isolating ourselves to be exclusively with like-minded people. This is true for all of us, wherever we fall on the theological spectrum. It is healthy for us to have direct interpersonal contact with those who do not share most or even any of our beliefs. Admittedly, it is more comfortable to congregate with others who believe like we believe, think like we think and worship like we worship. This is only natural.
A certain denomination subscribes to a wonderful motto. “In Essentials, Unity. In Non-Essentials, Liberty. In All Things, Charity. Truth in Love.” Of course, it is not always easy to determine exactly which are the “essentials” but at least this saying demonstrates recognition of gray areas and the two-sided coin of truth and love.
This Sunday, November 22 there will be a Community Thanksgiving Service at 7:00 PM at Farmville Presbyterian Church (4138 Grimmersburg Street). Rick Bailey of First Baptist Church will be speaking. All people young and old and everything in between are welcome. Afterwards, middle school and high school youth are invited to stay for snacks, hanging out and playing basketball until 9:00 PM in the Family Life Center.
“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body… and were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)