One of the unfortunate results of the American need for puritanism is that we tend toward more and more “pure” churches. It’s far too easy in our congregations to leave one body for the other. Disagreements, petty and profound, take on the language of God and our passive/aggressive side kicks in and we “have” to leave. As though we can somehow escape human nature.
We are human. We are going to disagree. I wonder what it would be like (in the salt/light context) for churches to model the idea that humans can get along even when they dynamically disagree? I wonder what it would be like for Christians to embrace the idea that they are peacemakers in themselves, their homes, their churches, and their local organizations? I suspect that the healthiest congregations are those made up of republicans/democrats/libertarians/green/coffee and tea parties – all worshiping the same God – all proclaiming the same gospel.
From the introduction to Bonhoeffer’s Spiritual Care:
Christ is the mediator not only between God and humanity but between persons within the Church … The Church is not an assembly of like-minded individuals, nor is it an agency organized around a certain previously agreed-upon principles (like a social agency or a labor union). The Church is entered through baptism, and it is baptism which gives us our relationship within the church. W are ties together in the body of Christ even if we don’t like each other. Community is not the same thing as camaraderie.
True community works through the disagreements rather than leaving one disagreement for the comfort of people who are where I am at.
2 thoughts on “The Church is community… even when we don’t like one another…”
Thank you for sharing this.
I’ve been struggling with people…MOST of my life. I became a Christian at an early age, and was adopted by a pastor and his family. I’ve seen a lot of disputes. People leaving the church because of petty things (as you mentioned). I’ve been in ministry over 15 years now, and my heart still carries hurt from people. But as you said, people will always be there. And I’m called to love them, care for them, minister to them.
I have 7 adopted brothers and sisters and was raised in a pastor’s family. What is remarkable is having that experience and still entering the ministry.