Tuesday, November 7, 2017

We are One in Christ

There is no question that we live on a fractured planet where life and relationships are not what God intended. We need Christians who would be uniters not dividers, bearers of grace, forgiveness, and mercy in a world gone mad with war and hatred.  Now more than ever we need the Good News of the Gospel. Thankfully, the New Testament offers us a vision for the healing and transformation of the world.  St. Paul writes to the church at Rome about what it means to live a Christ-like life:
            “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God…So, we who are many, are ONE body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.”  St. Paul’s words echo in the song:  “We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord, and we pray that our unity will one day be restored.” 
Yet we are currently a fractured nation and even as a Christian church we are divided.  And like during the days of the Civil War, we find friends and family members pitted against each other—each convinced of the righteousness of their cause.  When we allow anger, prejudice, and intolerance to raise its ugly head—our witness to the world is weakened. 
Martin Luther once said:  “God doesn’t need our good works, but our neighbor does.”  He talked a lot about caring for the neighbor in need.  But who is our neighbor?  Do they include people who are different than us?  Who have a different color of skin?  Who have a different faith or are of a different political persuasion?  Are they our neighbors? 
Jesus tried to answer this in his parable of the Good Samaritan.  Moreover, he led by example.  Jesus didn’t keep to his own, rather he ministered to the outcast, the leper, the tax collector, the adulteress, even the Gentile.  Race, color, or creed was no barrier.
St. Paul takes it one further in his letter to the Galatians:  “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”   In Christ, all the divisions are wiped away and the walls come down.  We are called to extend God’s love and compassion to all people.  There is no place for hate or fear of the Other in God’s Kingdom. 
As a nation and as a church, we are stronger for our diversity.  And in these turbulent times we must look to our better angels to guide us.  Martin Luther King Jr. wrote these words of encouragement:  “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.  I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
In an age of cynicism, prejudice, hatred and fear, we can be healers in the world.  We can offer an alternative in the Good News of Jesus.  We can conquer hate with love.  We can offer hope.  Ultimately, it is the only way to bring healing and wholeness to our lives, to our relationships, and to our world. 

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