Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What to Say?

Almost every Sunday (at least during the weeks of Pentecost) we sing As The Grains of Wheat

As the grains of wheat once scattered on the hill
 were gathered into one to become our bread;
So may all your people from all the ends of earth
be gathered into one in you.
It's a lovely tune, but the words are lovelier still...and quite profound. They are particularly relevant in these days of cultural wars around the globe, in our own country, within Christianity, between denominations, and amidst individual churches.
I'm concerned with one aspect of the culture war as it relates to faith, specifically the Christian faith: to borrow from Justin Lee's, Torn, I'm concerned about Rescuing the Gospel from the Gay vs. Christian debate. I saw a thought-provoking post on Facebook, it was just what I'd been thinking. It said something like, Perhaps God made gay Christians to test His followers, to see if they would obey His command to love one another.
That's what I think about when I sing, so may all your people from all the ends of earth be gathered into one in you. I think about scriptures that tell us we are one in Christ. I reflect on Galatians 3:27-29 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Love one another is a command to those who claim Jesus as Lord and Savior. There is no distinction, no caveat that says you only have to love those who believe and act just like you do. Rather, speaking to Christians, the Bible clearly says, love one another...meaning all fellow believers.  That's not an option, and it's not an invitation to judge or pass judgment on who is or isn't a Christian. We're to leave the judging of others to God, and live our own lives in obedience. 
I'm trying to do that, and I'll admit it's easier said than done. I want to pass judgment on all who limit the grace of Jesus to only those who live and sin as they do. I'm working at not judging others who sin differently than I do. Because that's what it boils down to.  
I'm a believer and follower of Jesus. So are my Mennonite neighbors. I don't dress like them or live my life like they do, but they accept me as a fellow Christian. And I return that favor, because I love them. I don't prefer to follow their practices, and I don't need them to follow mine. We both believe in one God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. We believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried...
Or to put it more succinctly -- here are the words to the song Lord I Lift Your Name on High:
You came from heaven to earth to show the way
From the earth to the cross my debt to pay
From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky
Lord I lift your name on high.


But back to the creed: I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen
Anyone and everyone who believes the words to the Apostle's Creed is my brother, sister, loved one in Christ. How they dress, how they live, who they love, what denomination they belong to or doctrine they ascribe to is of no concern to me. It's between them and God, who judges all people rightly, because He alone sees the heart.
Whew, what a relief. I don't have to judge others. God's got it covered. I just have to love. And that's what I needed to work through. That's what I wanted to say -- for my own benefit.
All God's people...may the peace of Christ be with us, with them, and also with you.


Yvonne Powell Thayer said...

Thank you for saying this so well. Perfect love casts out fear.

Kristine Riddle said...

"I'm working at not judging others who sin differently than I do." Wow - that's just what I need to do as well. Thank you for the inspiration, and the beautiful message of love.

Betsy Henning said...

Oh yes, Yvonne, so much of our bad behavior springs from fear... Thanks for the reminder. Perfect love can it cast out.

Betsy Henning said...

Kristine, thanks for encouraging me to write it down!

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