Sunday, May 1, 2011

Rebuilding a broken temple

Sometimes I wonder: are we all serving different Gods? 

I'm not just talking Ganesh vs Ra vs Buddha vs Yaweh.... I'm talking, do I serve a different God than my Christian brothers and sisters? You know, the sisters who are Calvinists or the brothers who believe it's a sin for a woman to speak in church or the people who believe in a literal seven day creation story. It might seem an absurd question to some but it must be asked regardless because at times we act like we've got our own personal deities. Upon hearing divergent view points I admit, sometimes I think, "That's not the God I serve." And while the character traits of the God they're describing may be unfamiliar to the one I understand and know, we ARE nevertheless serving the same God. He is dealing with us all, regardless of if we can agree with each other long enough to see it. 

I often feel at war with myself. Part of me wants to be able to just write people off: That person believes something whacked out, so they obviously can't be a believer. Or- that girl is obviously in denial about what the Bible is really saying in that passage, she must be a nominal Christian. Or- that guy thinks the Virgin Mary is kind of a big deal, he must be an idolator. But the more I try to homogenize the Body of Christ, the smaller and smaller it gets, until it's whittled down to just me. 

The other part of me longs to make sense out of the obvious reality that we're all so beautifully different.  But God doesn't seem to have any intentions of making us beautifully the same any time much as we may want that. I confess that sometimes I despair of this fact. I like things to fit neatly in a box, with no loose ends. It doesn't make sense to me when my roommate who I love, and who I know is honestly seeking the Lord, doesn't come to the same theological conclusions as I do. We're both open to correction, both open to seeing truth in the other's side if it is there, and yet we remain firmly separated in our understandings of certain things. At times both of us have exasperatingly asked God, "What are you doing? When are you going to show one of us that the other one was right? Or even that we were both wrong?" These are valid questions. God could, at any time, snap his fingers and we'd all be in complete unity in regards to what our lives as Believers should look like. But I suspect that if we were to wait around for those things to happen, there'd be a lot of waiting going on. After all, the qualifying factor for being a Christian is not a list of things we ascribe to theologically, but a love encounter with the Savior where our rags are exchanged for His righteousness. It is a journey to His heart and none of us has arrived yet.

As lame as the title of my blog is, it conveys a question that is often on my heart. When we come to an understanding or have that light bulb going on moment, our next question should be, what now? How do we move forward from here? We are in agreement that the Church is pretty diverse, so how do we remain the unified body of Christ in spite of our differences? We do it by placing value on each other's  journey and sincere desire to know God more deeply. We do it by trusting that the Holy Spirit really will guide us into all truth as the Scriptures promise us. I'm trying to figure out how to do this myself...but I know it is important work.

Bishop Charles Henry Brent said: 
The unity of Christendom is not a luxury, but a necessity. The World will go limping until Christ's prayer that all may be one is answered. We must have unity, not at all costs, but at all risks. A unified Church is the only offering we dare present to the coming Christ, for in it alone will He find room to dwell.

We are the temple of God. I've always been told that He lives in me as an individual, but I think it even more important and perhaps even more Biblical to understand this as He intended it: that corporately we are the temple, the dwelling place, the Body of Christ. Where does He have to dwell but in us? 

Colossians 2:2
My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ. 

Unity is important. Not just so we can all get along, but because when we are unified we are actively building a dwelling place for Jesus, and in doing so we come to know Him who is making His home in us- the mystery of God.

If this is something that has been on your heart, check out the Rally to Restore Unity going on all week. Read blogs, round table discussions, and post your thoughts as we blaze the path forward in love. 


  1. Hi Charissa, this is awesome, thanks for sharing! I found your post through your comment on Rachel Held Evans' blog. I'm also reading The Rise and Fall of the Bible - isn't it great?!

  2. Thanks Natalie! Yea, I'm really enjoying the book. Challenging lots of long-held beliefs I've had. :)

  3. I loved this part:
    "We do it by placing value on each other's journey and sincere desire to know God more deeply. We do it by trusting that the Holy Spirit really will guide us into all truth as the Scriptures promise us."

    It sounds so easy, but it's usually so damn hard to trust that the Holy Spirit is somehow guiding us and the Christians that we don't believe in. Yet I guess if I'm to be brutally honest, I need those I disagree with because I learn as much if not more from them about what I believe than those who pretty much agree and don't challenge me to think.