Many of you know that for about 25 years, the Presbyterian Church as well as many other denominations argued a lot, mostly about issues of human sexuality.
In response to those arguments, the Presbyterian Church created a task force (The Task Force on Peace, Unity, and Purity of the Church) to try to find a way forward without splitting the church.
In good Presbyterian fashion, the Task Force was balanced in every category of age, gender, geography, race, and ideological, theological, and biblical position. That is to say, we created a body almost guaranteed to fail and spend all its time arguing.
A minor miracle happened. The task force developed a report with a list of recommendations that it unanimously approved. It identified the issues that divide and suggested that what we are best at is blaming others for the troubles.
Then the Task Force made the simplest and most remarkable suggestion: that we stop shouting and start listening, that we actually try to understand where the other person is coming from. The report also says that we should busy ourselves with loving one another the way Jesus loved people. I love these lines in particular:
In a world of divisiveness and violence, it is essential for those
who confess Jesus Christ as Lord to show the reason for the hope
that is within us by dealing differently with one another.
The church has been called to a transformed way of living.
Today, especially, as Jews, Christians, and Muslims—the children
of Abraham— are as much enmeshed as any other people in
ongoing conflict in our world, our prayer to the God of Abraham is
to hasten the day of messianic peace and to enable the
Presbyterian Church to be an instrument to that end.
I can’t think of anything more important for our world these days. In the midst of all the posturing and arguing, our faith comes along with the most impactful bit of good news the world has ever heard. God is love, and the most important moral mandate is that God is properly worshiped not when we win the argument over our (supposed) opponent or hold to the right ideology, but when we love each other. That's when something of Christ’s love is made known in our relationships.
We’ll explore it in depth this weekend by considering this passage. Join us, and invite a friend -- maybe even one with whom you sometimes disagree!