Helpful Tidbits for Organic Church Life                                      September 1, 2008
No Divisions in Christ
My Reflections
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In the world of science there exists a conundrum. Whereas Einstein's theory of relativity works well for things that are big, say planets, the theory breaks down at the atomic level, where things are small. Similarly, what's known as the atom"standard theory" seems to work well at the atomic level but fails miserably when gravity is introduced. In the world of science the Holy Grail, if you will, is a theory of "everything," where all things co-exist: seamlessly, elegantly.
Although science has yet to find the "magic formula," the church need not wait for "everything" is found in Jesus and Jesus alone.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION/TOPIC: What happens when those in my immediate faith community don't see eye to eye?
No Divisions in Christ 
Excerpt from Paul the Apostle's first letter to the Corinthians
One Thing LogoI appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas"; still another, "I follow Christ."

Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. (1 Cor. 1:10-15).
My Reflections
One Thing Logo
For a couple weeks during August I roomed with a staunch Obama supporter. What's more, he seemed to love Jesus with all his heart while actively seeking to love his neighbor as himself. And although I'm not particularly excited about either of America's two front-runners, I consciously made a choice to let love prevail. In other words, I decided to see how well two Christians could co-exist given very different viewpoints. How did I do that? It was simple really. I focused on Jesus. Not nations. Not candidates. Not being right. I simply let Jesus speak for himself.
Part of the beauty of "organic" church life is that the Holy Spirit is in charge. As a result, followers of Jesus are able to co-exist regardless of major differences. Now, does this mean that all are right? Certainly not. In fact, the Apostle Paul notes, "No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval" (1 Cor 11:19). Now, does this mean those who are proved right get to gloat? Again, certainly not. Remember, the church is a family. When my sons discover, for example, that dad is right on some thing I don't rub their noses in it. Instead, I celebrate their discovery. And, for the record, it works both ways. Sometimes they're right and I'm wrong.
Calvin_Arminius_2Traditionally, "parishioners" ask themselves if they align with their church's leadership. If they don't then a decision must be made. Are the differences big enough to make a move...a move to another church? This type of thinking is known as "closed system" thinking. "Open systems," on the other hand, allow for an array of viewpoints that can be tested for their rightness, goodness, and so on.
So, whereas the church should be an open system (i.e. no false divisions), the Kingdom, ironically, is not. When it comes to the Kingdom, it's Jesus's way, period. No highway option. At the same time, however, false divisions in the body of Christ are, well, false. One of my sons may verbally disown me, disagree with me ideologically, but the fact remains: I am his father.
Truth be told, I will never leave my son...or my father...or my brother (I'll have to address Lk 14:26 some other time). We might disagree, but I'll never leave. If biological families work that way, shouldn't the spiritual family all the more? So, know this church family, whether you vote for Obama, McCain, or Goofy, I will not leave you; I may not agree with you, but I won't leave you. Whether you follow this "teacher" or that one, I cannot leave you. Why? Because you're family where love always prevails.
Pictured: Obama & McCain, Calvin & Arminius (Calvinism and Arminianism have "divided" the church for centuries)
Hope this was of some benefit to you.

Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table