Thursday, May 5, 2016

We Are One

Recently, the Lectionary has moved us over in to the Gospel of John.  And, If I had to name a theme hymn for John it would be: 

          We are one in the spirit; we are one in the Lord.
          We are one in the spirit; we are one in the Lord.
          We pray that all unity will one day be restored, and 
          They'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love.

Get it?  I'm not sure we do.  Jesus leaves and gives us the eleventh commandment in John: Love one another.  They will know you are my disciples by your love for one another..."  No question about the importance of love here for Jesus, and the church.  But, how does it work itself out in practical terms?  Or does it?

Even the most committed Christian has to admit that we don't always get it right.  You could say that if we loved each other (all Christians) we could get together in one church.  Not!!  Or, you could say that if we truly loved each other we could get along in the church we're in.  Not!!  Rodney King's question echoes down to us: Why can't we all just get along?

Even in the smallest of spiritual entities, the family, we struggle to make love the center of our quest.  So, in church, Jesus brings us together with all our differences.  And, for the most part, we do well with love with those who are like us.  We love those who are like us politically, morally, in terms of belief.  We have so politicized the whole of life in this county.  Politics is God.  We live and die by politics.  Maybe because we expect too much from politics.  I hate to say this but politics is not God.

Never has American life been more fragmented.  Or, maybe we've always been fragmented, but we just didn't have it so in front of us on TV and Internet twenty four hours a day.  I don't know.  But, it seems that we've reached a pinnacle of fragmentation.  

It doesn't explain everything but I think that this is the ultimate outcome of a philosophy of individualism which basically says that there is not central authority..  Every person is their own god, their own religion.  

IN a great book of the last century, a religious sociologist says this same thing.  He describes the typical person as someone name Sheila who lives out her Sheilaism, her religion is herself.  And, the rest of us, well, we're just tolerated so she can get what she wants.  Ourselves, our group, our lives are made the essence of all things.  How it affects me is the great value to be lived.  No concern for the common good or for anyone else other than my own.  

So, here we are.  We Christians are not much of an example for the rest of the world.  We just get in the filth with them.  But, Jesus knows that love matters more than anything.  The community of faith, the church, is to be a body of Christ, a community of love and forgiveness.  Love one another.  Love one another.  

Not tolerate each other, or put up with each other, but love, with all our differences and all our problems.  They will know we are Christians by our love.  Period.

David E. Nichols

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