the weblog of Alan Knox

The world looked on in dismay…

Posted by on Apr 2, 2013 in blog links, unity | 7 comments

The world looked on in dismay…

I was very excited a couple of days ago when I read a post by Kathleen at “Church in a Circle” called “This Easter, let’s set aside our divisions and practise true religion.” Besides misspelling the word “practice” (When will people from other English-speaking countries learn how to spell words like “practice”?), this is a very good post, and an excellent catalyst for thinking about the unity we have in Jesus Christ (and only in Jesus Christ).

As you begin to read and think about Kathleen’s post, keep this quote from Jesus in the back of your mind: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21 ESV)

Now, this is how Kathleen begins her post:

In my youth, it seemed as though entire church denominations were at war with one another. Evangelicals were certain Catholics had it completely wrong. High Anglicans looked down upon low expressions of church. Baptists thought Pentecostals were from another planet. God’s people focussed on their theological differences, rather than the core beliefs that drew them all to the same God. The world looked on in dismay, and quietly retracted any expectation of discovering God through this violent, divided “religion”.

Did you notice the difference? Jesus said that, because of our unity, “The world may believe that you have sent me.” In contrast, Kathleen says (and rightly so, I think), “The world looked on in dismay.” Well, I think some look on in dismay; some look on in apathy; some look on in contempt. Meanwhile, we keep separating from one another, fighting with one another, refusing to serve other together, and calling each other many names (besides brother or sister).

When I was in Ethiopia a few years ago, one of the things that my brothers and sisters in Christ there could not understand is how followers of Jesus Christ could live next door to one another, work together, go to school together, etc., and yet refuse to serve God together, refuse to treat each other like brothers and sisters in Christ, refuse to live as the church of Jesus Christ together. They just could not understand our divisions.

Here’s the thing… refusing to face our differences will not actually help the problem with divisions among the church.

There’s only one thing that will ease these divisions: focusing on and living in the unity that we already have in Jesus Christ despite our differences.

I’d encourage you to read Kathleen’s post, then consider how you could demonstrate the unity you have with the brothers and sisters in your life… those who are all around you… those you may not think about very often because they are different than you.


7 Comments

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  1. 4-2-2013

    How embarrassing to be caught out with a spelling mistake! I’ll correct it right away!!!

    – Kathleen

  2. 4-2-2013

    Hold on – it’s you Americans who can’t spell! You nearly had me there!

    Being an Aussie, I’ve grown up with a license to choose either spelling, as it suits me. Best of both worlds.

    – Kathleen

  3. 4-2-2013

    P.S. I do always enjoy your ironic sense of humour, and I’m starting to think you’re just playing with me – pointing out differences between spelling while calling God’s people to rise above theological differences. You’re just too clever for me, Alan! ;-)

  4. 4-2-2013

    Alan,

    I’m blessed by Kathleen’s article, and to see more and more Aussies understanding these issues.

    I too, enjoy a little of your sarcasm (emphasis on “little”):) so I thought I’d indulge myself.

    Kathleen knows her ENGLISH,which is spoken in more sophisticated countries, like Australia!

    In English, “practice” is a noun, and “practise” is a verb. Kathleen used the word “practise” correctly. The same applies to “licence” and “license”, “advise” and “advice”.

    When I write I’m constantly changing my spelling so that you Americans will know what I’m writing :)

    Stone the crows, you folk don’t even know the difference between a sandpit and a sandbox, and blackboard and a chalkboard, nor, that peak hour IS NOT rush hour. Ill-taught teenagers say “flashlight” instead of “torch”, “sidewalk” instead of “footpath”, and even worse, “buddy” instead of “friend”.

    Oh! The shame of it all!:)

    Forgive me Alan! I couldn’t help myself.

  5. 4-2-2013

    Kathleen,

    Thanks for the great post, and thanks for playing along with my humor. :)

    Aussie John,

    That’s one of the best comments that I’ve read in a long time. Thank you!

    -Alan

  6. 4-3-2013

    Aussie John, thanks for backing me up! It’s good to stick together. ;-)

    Alan, sorry for ganging up on you. After all, we know you can’t help it. Maybe you’ll come Down Under one day and see the light. After all, we do everything differently here. We get up when you’re going to bed. We have Christmas in summer. We insist that ‘farm’ and ‘calm’ rhyme, but ‘palm’ and ‘Pam’ do not. It would blow your mind!

    Much love and laughs,

    Kathleen

  7. 4-3-2013

    Kathleen,

    Keep practicing your English. The practice will pay off eventually.

    -Alan