Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Time to Gather

The Trinity Sunday Meditation, from A Time to Gather – Christian meditations for the year, by Andrew Butcher. Self-published 2005.

‘Some of the worst people I know are Christians,’ my friend said to me. And I agreed: some of the worst people I know are Christians as well. Certainly some of the most invective correspondence I’ve ever received has come from Christians, and anyone who has been involved in churches for long enough knows that church politics beats even university politics, which is saying something.

But I added something to my response to my friend: some of the best people I know are Christians as well. Some of the kindest, most humble people I’ve met are Christians. I’ve gone away from conversations with these people and felt ‘edified,’ to use the biblical term.
It’s a fact of human nature that we like people like us. We like people who think the same way as us, talk the same way as us, and believe the same things as us. But the church – or, more broadly, the community of faith in which we confess – should be made up of those that are different from as well.

Psychology has shown that we tend to believe that the majority of people think the same way as we do, when actually that may not be the case. The thing is our faith – our Christianity – is most comfortable when it’s among like-minded people who agree with everything we say and don’t rock the boat too much. But that’s not what it’s about. Our faith connects with our life when the rubber hits the road: in times of conflict, in times of questions, in times of difference.

I’m reminded of John Hawkesby’s phrase that we’ve taken the cross and exchanged it with a butter-knife. The Cross is an offense to our sensibilities and should shake us from our complacency, much like the vents of the Gospel of Acs shook the disciples from their familiar territory. As they discovered, there are no persona non grata where God is concerned. God calls us to live our faith with, and amongst, everyone – whether we’d like to or not.
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