Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow: though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18
It is all too easy to disconnect from each other. For sure, the reasons to disconnect are many and even reasonable. Yet we see the impact of doing life together. John 13, Acts 2, 1 Corinthians 13, and Revelation 7 all show the powerful results of togetherness. But togetherness is hard. Being together implies that we are sharing and exchanging space and ideas. Togetherness also implies we are engaged and even talking together. The image captures a conversation between pastors and students (potential congregants) discussing ethnicity and its impact on the church. Students raise the question because of the divide they see all over our country. It is shameful when at every turn, we see the campfires lit. Are you in this camp or that? Are you on this side or that side? This concern extends far beyond the church steeple, and now we cannot be anywhere near people different from us. Should issues such as tradition, heritage, style, and music be enough to keep separate? How is it that our theology confirms if we are believers in Christ, we will spend eternity together? Yet, we struggle to live together on this planet without perfect alignment. Over 20 years ago, I was a youth pastor. We planned a college visit for our youth group, and everyone was excited. A day before we were to leave, our church van broke down, and we did not have another plan. I remembered that a nearby church had just gotten a BRAND NEW van! I saw it all lettered up and noted that its Titan V10 motor must be powerful. I knew I had friends there and called to ask if it was possible to borrow their van. Without hesitation, they said yes! They worked out the insurance coverage details, and I was so excited to pick it up. When I arrived with the surprise back at our church, several youths declared, “We can’t ride in this… it’s not our denomination!!!!!!” Wow, I remember explaining to them that we were, in fact, going to accept the loan from our friends with grace, and I was going…even if I had to go alone on this trip.” Everyone went, and we had a great time visiting the college campus. It was near the end of the trip the real miracle happened. As we were leaving the campus, we saw a note attached to the van’s window. ” You’ve just made me so happy! I was having the worst day ever, and just like that, God sent people from my church to visit our campus! I have been looking for you, but I didn’t see you – just seeing our church van let me know God loves me! He knew I needed to see you!” She wasn’t wrong. We were from the SAME church! Sure, we were a different branch, but we were (are) from the same franchise! I wept that day, reminded that we are better together.
Incredible conversations between leaders and followers, old and young, women and men, are impactful as we consider the work, effort, and mission of the body of Christ.