by Edwin Markham
But now you have arrived at your destination: By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God. Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe—Christ’s life, the fulfillment of God’s original promise. In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises.
- Galatians 3.25-30 (The Message)
We are about halfway through our sermon series on spiritual vision, Seeing through God’s Eyes; in which we are reflecting on the five core values that constitute our vision statement: valuing and accepting everyone, embracing spiritual and cultural diversity, focusing only on what unites us, serving with heart, and living in hopeful expectation. On Sunday we will focus on the third of these values, focusing only on what unites us.
This is a challenging value to live out, is it not; finding that one spiritual j’ne sais quoi capable of bringing us together and holding us in fellowship? For example, should we heed this value, there would be no room for many of the attitudes and actions we so cherish: arrogance, ridicule, gossip, scorn, or outright rejection. Nor would it be possible to protect the church by clinging to a fixed set of doctrines, liturgy, and, in general, the way we’ve always done things. It would seem that to focus on such things would create a rather small, homogenous fellowship; or, if conceived as a circle as in the poem cited above, a constricted circle that has no room for diversity or difference of any kind. Unity is described rather arrogantly as anyone like us.
What if, however, we would rather be humble, as the good news suggests, and let Love draw the circle? What if we took seriously the Disciples recognition of ways of practicing faith differently from us? You remember the expression, “We are not the only Christians, we are Christian only.” And what if we humbly gave up possession of the truth of faith as delineated in so many creeds and doctrinal formulations? What if, again, we took seriously the Disciples desire to have “No creed but Christ?” What would happen to our circle? It would be large indeed, allowing room for a broad swath of believers, even the arrogant “He” in the poem cited above.
Even such a large, diverse circle must have a center, a focus that draws all in and makes of it a united fellowship. That center, that focus, is what we will attempt to identify on Sunday. I hope we can, because that large circle fellowship sounds attractive to me!
I hope to see you on Sunday.