“The church is like Noah’s Ark. We could not stand the stench inside if it were not for the storm outside.” Reinhold Niebuhr
Having only one English-speaking church in this city means we can’t be choosy. We have to put aside differences of nationality and theology and style if we want to worship here. The common denominator is Jesus and an ability to understand English. Nothing more.
But taking Jesus as a common denominator is not always so comfortable for me. Frankly, the things I hear some Christians say in the media makes me cringe, big time. A few months ago I posted a quote by someone who is a polar opposite of me in political views and who has made some very outrageous statements. I had a small worry that people might think I agreed with this person about other things beside our common faith in Jesus. [and no, I’m not going to tell you who it was.]
Maybe in heaven we’ll be part of a big happy family together, but right now on earth there are Christians I don’t want to be associated with. Metaphorically, they smell bad to me. But being a follower of Jesus, I don’t get to choose my traveling companions. The people next to me at the communion table could very well be on the opposite side from me on things like:
Listening to Fox news, or NPR?
Reading the NY Times or the NY Post?
Voting for Palin or Obama?
Being for the war or against it?
And even if they do check the same boxes as me, they might gossip or falsely accuse or act holier than thou, or take credit for things they had little or nothing to do with, or promote their way as the only right way. Or maybe they’re like me–an unmerciful servant who has been forgiven by God but who still judges other people harshly, unwilling to be graceful when someone says something really stupid or pompous.
I need to remember there’s a storm outside, and take Paul’s wise advice to heart:
Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.
For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.
And always be thankful.
“There is an endless song
Echoes in my soul
I hear the music ring
And though the storms may come
I am holding on
To the rock I cling…”
Chris Tomlin, How Can I Keep from Singing?