In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity.
Be united with other Christians. A wall with loose bricks is not good. The bricks must be cemented together.
Corrie Ten Boom
We’re one but we’re not the same. We get to carry each other
The place was packed. Standing in the aisles, leaning against the walls, crammed in benches and chairs, people were everywhere. And the vibe? Unbelievable. The excitement was palatable. As the music started, people were clapping their hands, dancing, singing along, cheering, standing on their seats, speaking in tongues.
WHAT?!? Speaking in tongues? What kinda crazy concert was this?
Actually it wasn’t at a concert at all. It was the tenth annual, all-church Good Friday service in Rotorua, New Zealand. Baptists, Presbyterians, Anglicans, non-denoms, charismatics, cessationists, pentacostals, and every -ic, -ist and -al doing the same thing. Celebrating the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. I’m pretty sure heaven is going to be something like that. In fact, the Bible tells me heaven is going to be a lot like that. Revelation 19:6 & 7 says, “And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thundering, saying ‘Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.’” Did you catch that? His wife? Who is that? (Pssst! I think that’s us! The Church!)
How has she made herself ready thus far for her Bridegroom?
Well, with child-like faith and youthful zeal, the wife spread the Good News in the Book of Acts. Then came her teenage years when the pomp and the popes began to overshadow her mission. Her early 20’s, a time when one tends to have a definite and almost arrogant assurance of what is right and wrong, can be reflected in the Inquisition and the Reformation (I mean, honestly, when the Catholics and the Protestants weren’t busy killing one another they were killing Muslims, Jews and other “infidels.”) The late 20’s and 30’s saw the wife raising ‘children’ as denomination after denomination sprung up. There were some positive points to this fertility, though, as she became mission focused once again and the spiritual revival associated with the Great Awakenings spread. Then came the mid-life crisis that was the 20th and early 21st century of more division, conferences against this doctrinal position and books against that supposed heresy.
The question begs to be asked, what is the future for this woman? Will she continue on her present trajectory and become a grumpy old cat lady who sits in her rocker on the porch all day yelling at anyone who steps on her lawn?
But some of us feel optimistic about this wonderful woman we call the Body of Christ. We believe she’ll age beautifully, her lines falling into pleasant places, her grey hair a crown of glory as we see love begin to work unity within us. We don’t want to ever preach anything other than Christ and Him crucified. That’s a given.
But what’s not worth quibbling over is all the stuff we add to our church statements of faith. Don’t choose an unimportant hill to die on because you want to be dunked, she wants to be sprinkled and he’s happy he was baptised as an infant. Okay? That kind of sectarianism ultimately leads us to become the kind of people picketing funerals and Switchfoot concerts. The narrow gate is actually Jesus, not pet doctrines (which look suspiciously like cats anyway.)
There’s room at the Marriage Feast of the Lamb for ALL who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. One day, that great and terrible day, we will see Him face to face and every knee will bow and every tongue confess and I think a heap of us may be surprised at who got an invitation.
So, starting now, I’m extending love and grace to my brothers and sisters, to those who agree with all my points on Dispensational Tithing during the Millennial Reign (um, kidding) and those who just found out Jesus Loves Me, This I Know, for the Bible Tells Me So. And everyone else in-between. Let’s grow old gracefully, Bride of Christ, shall we?
How about you? What do you think is the future of the Bride of Christ?