Christ is like a single body, which has many parts; it is still one body, even though it is made up of different parts.
So, then, the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” Nor can the head say to the feet, “Well, I don’t need you!”
But that is just what we are doing! Saying we don’t need each other. Saying we’d be better off without each other. It breaks my heart! We call ourselves The United Church of Christ, but I wonder. Sometimes, it seems, we are hardly “united” and hardly “of Christ.”
We are increasingly polarized as a church, mimicking the increasing polarization of American society when we should be resisting it and showing the world another way! We show ourselves to be “just like everybody else,” as resentful and stubborn and proud and controlling as everybody else. When we don’t get our own way, we pout and call names.
It is increasingly difficult to “live in the middle” in the United Church of Christ, which is probably a poor description of what it is I am advocating. Being “in the middle” is not about compromising, but about being a bridge; not about being lukewarm or noncommittal, but about understanding and loving both “sides” … the eyes and the hands, the head and the feet.
The church belongs to Christ. not to us, and Christ the Lord hardly needs us to defend him! He wants us to love him … and to love each other.
The evangelical “wing” of the United Church of Christ has something of great value to offer the whole church. But to accuse the church of “abandoning historic Christianity,” to seek to divide the church against itself, to encourage and support churches in withdrawing from the United Church of Christ shows no love to the church nor to the Christ to whom the church belongs.
The liberal “wing” of the United Church of Christ has something of great value to offer the whole church. But to mock and ostracize and marginalize evangelical folks who are genuinely concerned about the integrity of the church and its witness, who genuinely love God and want to discern and to do God’s will only does harm to the cause of Christ and cripples the church’s witness.
It is about doing God’s will, about praying with Jesus: Thy will be done. It is about discerning God’s will — together. Sometimes, it will take time and patience and generosity and selflessness and lots of humility to reach a place of agreement — or better, a place of discernment — where we do know together what it is God is calling us to do.
But in the meanwhile, there is much that God does will that is abundantly clear!
- God calls us to love the Lord our God above everything else, everything else. It is hard to imagine that we could turn our backs on each other if we would genuinely join hearts and voices in professing our love to God.
- God calls us to love each other. Not to judge each other — that job God guards jealously — but to love each other.
- And God calls us to be one. We know that! We take our motto from Jesus’ prayer: That they may all be one. Do we mean it? Can we show the world what Jesus wanted us to show the world, a people united, not by ideology or politics or race or even religious agenda, but by love alone, a love for God and a love for each other that never gives up?