Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bible Study: Together

Romans 15:10
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
A man stands on a street corner not far from where I live and plays his guitar in all sorts of weather. I imagine the instrument doesn't produce beautiful music anymore (traffic noise drowns out whatever he is playing) for he has had it out in the rain, sun, and snow. He hopes I will hand some money out the window. I wonder why he doesn't get a job after all these years, in a metropolis with numerous fast food places and retail stores. Of course, I don't know his particular circumstances which might make a regular job impossible and I am quite aware that it is not easy to get any job. But I don't hand anything out the window.
In a certain sense, we don't want to identify ourselves with particular people in our churches any more than I want to support that guitarist on the street. They're not making choices we approve of; we don't want to be mistaken as one of them; they're difficult to get along with. While that is normal in the world, we cannot have that attitude within the Church. Just as it was seemingly impossible for the first Jewish and Gentile Christians to worship together, we find immense differences within our churches difficult to overcome. Yet the Lord obviously wants there to be differences, since He created each of us with different personalities and gives us different gifts. When it comes to other Christians, we are called to identify ourselves together with people who have different ministries, different personalities (even difficult ones!), making different choices in life, fighting different battles, living with different economic means. The Lord has brought us together through a wonderful gift of salvation to all humanity, to Jews and Gentiles (and singles and marrieds and young and old and poor and rich and everyone in between). While our differences don't always require us to lend practical support to one another (I'm still not handing money out the window to panhandlers, even if their sign says "God bless you"), sometimes that is required of us (there are other ways to financially support those with legitimate needs). Whether that visible support is required or not, the choice to love always is. We come alongside those who are different because the Lord has entrusted us all with the treasure of salvation. Jews and Gentiles. With all our different gifts. And all our different lifestyles.

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