Rachel Held Evans is holding the first annual Rally to Restore Unity at her blog. I encourage you to check it out and read some of the other participants’ entries when you’re done here. Also, we were supposed to make witty/poignant signs to go with the rally, but as my laptop puked all over itself last night, you’ll just have to imagine a witty/poignant sign right about
It was going to say something like “I CHOOSE not to be a Calvinist, and you ELECT not to be [hadn't decided yet on the right term here], but I think we can still follow Jesus together.” You’ll just have to use your imagination.
Church unity means something a bit different for Lyndie and I than it does for some. In our rural small town of Greenville, Ohio we don’t have the luxury of leaving a church when we don’t agree with its teachings in favor of going to the trendier church across town. We don’t have any new-fangled Emergent churches out here in the cornfields, so if you plan to attend church here and consider yourself in any way progressive, you will have to compromise and figure out how to love and learn from people you disagree with. Or just get bitter. We sometimes do both.
We find ourselves in the churchgoing version of The Breakfast Club. We’re stuck in a geographical room with people we don’t always have a lot in common with, but by being forced to fellowship and talk in this environment for years we’ve found many of our struggles and desires are the same as those of the people we don’t see eye to eye with.
As I’ve written before, we love the people in our church. We disagree with them significantly on a host of issues, but we love them and they do a great job of loving us. Grace has been our home for 10 years now, and it’s been a good decade. Honestly, Lyndie and I both suspect our time there is drawing to a close, but if and when we leave it will be, I trust, with hugs and continuing friendships rather than anger and broken relationships.
The biggest thing I’ve learned from these years of worshipping weekly in a church that doesn’t match my theology is that Jesus really is the point, that love is more powerful than any disagreement, and that it’s really hard to be pissed off at someone you just had chicken wings and beer with. Yes, I leave church mad about the sermon sometimes, but I still love my pastors and I know they love God and love people, regardless of whether we agree on every single exegetical issue. Or even very many.
So, keep Jesus at the center, keep love your driving impulse, and take your pastor out for coffee or drinks now and then and you should find unity, at least on the relationship level, is simpler than the theological words we try to put in its way. And the times when you still feel bitter and misunderstood, well…that’s what blogs are for.