I heard a wry joke this week commenting on the divisiveness of Christianity. In it, a man gets to Heaven, and as St. Peter is showing him around, he sees a group of people with their backs turned, facing the wall. “Who are those people?” the man asks. St. Peter urgently replies, “SHHH! Those are the _____ ; they think they’re the only ones here!”
The denominational identifier is blank for obvious reasons but you get the point…we may be fine with interfaith dialogue but when it comes to ecumenical conversation, the differences between us can quickly turn to debate – maybe even anger, especially when we expect to share the same benchmark of belief. What that person does or says in the name of Christ has the power to affect us deeply if it is in contrast with that same part of us. How can we possibly share one faith, one Gospel, when we are so different? How many of us at one point or another have used the term “THOSE Christians” or perhaps even felt embarrassed to use the identifier “Christian” to describe ourselves at all?
The benchmark expectations of Christianity – or even Anglicanism! – can vary drastically depending on where you stand… and because of this we may find ourselves in factions over a variety of issues… freedom convoys, vaccination, public health mandates, women’s ordination, gay marriage, or good old-fashioned doctrine and worship debates. I’m guessing that we are all convinced we are right about some things and “those other” Christians are wrong.
This is not to say that there aren’t matters we differ on that are absolutely worth fighting for. I am certainly not immune to the deep wounds many of these differences have caused – for myself and for those whom I love. Yet, we are all susceptible to demonizing someone who is actually our sibling in Christ, especially when we deeply disagree on crucial matters.
As we begin the fourth week of our Lenten journey, may we take a moment to pray for those we disagree with, to pray for ourselves to have our wounds healed, and our eyes opened to see the good that God is doing through others for the sake of the Kingdom we all serve. Let us remember with faith and trust that the Church belongs to God, and pray that God will continue to work through all of us broken humans for the glory of Christ and the salvation of the whole world.
Download the service booklet here: Liturgy at Home Fourth Sunday in Lent March 27 2022