|“The Peaceable Kingdom”
John Swanson, 1994
This journey of faith is a personal one, right? Isn’t that what we’re told? We’re suppose to find some way to connect to God, some way to find our own path to God, some way to express our own faith. We are told that we’re supposed to have a personal faith in Jesus Christ. And so we spend our time to trying to find our way, trying to find that one thing or that one way that makes us feel the most connected to God, makes us feel like we’re finally once and for all getting this faith thing figured out.
But ARE we called to a personal faith? ARE we called to “find our own way? I thought we were called to make disciples, to love one another, and to put down our lives. Those don’t really sound all that individual and personal, when you really think about it. They sound like community. They sound like connection. They sound like Communion. We are called to be the Body of Christ. It’s hard to do that by yourself. I really do think that God envisioned us together. Perhaps God even envisioned this bantering and this arguing and even this war of words and wits that so many of our religious denominations (including my own United Methodist one) are experiencing. Maybe it’s part of what we’re meant to do. It’s painful; it’s hurtful; it sometimes pulls us apart.
We all have our own vision of what God’s Kingdom looks like. I know I do. I envision a world where all of us are welcomed, all of us are fed, and all of us are valued for the gifts that God has placed in each of us. But do I? Do I welcome those with whom I disagree? Do I feed those with whom I am uncomfortable? And do I truly value those gifts that God has placed in those persons that have a vision that is different from mine? I don’t think that unity is about sameness. I’ve come to think that it’s not even about agreement. Unity has more to do with recognizing that the Kingdom of God, the Body of Christ is bigger than any one group, or one view, or one way of experiencing God. It has to do with leaving the door open, with sensing that there’s something more, something beyond what we think and what we believe. And together in faith, we will have to discern when we are called to be patient and when we are called to be persistent, when we are called to be open to moving and when we are called to stand firm, and, finally, when we are called to go into the wilderness, into the unknown and face our demons and prepare ourself for what is to come, and when we are called to go as a people to Jerusalem. Perhaps this Lenten journey is a call not to strengthen our faith but to impersonalize it and realize that we are called, together, to be the Body of Christ.
So on this twenty-fourth day of Lenten observance, get out of yourself. Impersonalize your faith a bit and open yourself to someone else on this journey.
Grace and Peace on this Lenten Journey,