In yesterday’s online sermon which was shared as part of our videotaped worship, I leaned upon the story of Cain and Abel to talk about the difference between “keeping each other” (what God wants from us) and “killing each other” (what Cain did to Abel). We are individuals called to live in right relationship with one another and sin makes that difficult to do! We are not to “live alone” but in community. To live in community these days is counter-cultural and lacks good role models in our society. It requires patience, forbearance, mercy, forgiveness, humor, humility and host of other qualities that seem in short-supply these days. Above all, living in community takes commitment and a willingness to serve others above self and God above all.
Jesus offers another way to live than to see others as enemies, opponents and competitors. He teaches us to see in the other the very face of God, and treat them as the beloved children of God that they are. How much better the world would be if we saw our neighbor as an asset, a gift, and a teammate in the game of life, rather than as a threat and a liability. In Jesus’ great prayer of John 17 he asks that we may so commune with the Triune God that we may live in peace and harmony as “one” people. He wants us to be united and indivisible.
Differences and disagreements don’t go away. Diversity and individuality don’t disappear. In fact, they are gifts! Think of a rainbow’s many colors, music’s many notes or a body’s many and diverse parts. God’s people are invited to acknowledge and respect difference as part of our “big tent” community. Friends in Christ, we have different views and thoughts on important matters in our nation and world, but we can’t let politics tear us apart. We belong to each other and must welcome one another as Christ has welcomed us. As a “purple church” composed of many viewpoints and life experiences, we are a hopeful demonstration to the world of what respectful, loving and diverse community can be!
Don’t let the divisions and hatreds, the prejudices and fears of this world cause division and divisiveness in the body of Christ. Let us “keep” and not “kill” one another! Work for unity. Commit to harmony. Let Jesus’ prayer shape your thoughts, words, hopes and desires. He wants us to be “one, completely one… with God and with each other.”