In the last few weeks with my youth ministry students we have been going The Apostles’ Creed, which in most churches and among most followers of Christ this is a creed that is a unifier. How fortuitous that shortly after starting this series I have found a quote from a 17th century Lutheran by the name of Rupertus Meldenius who said the following; “In essentials Unity, In non-essentials Liberty, in all things Charity”.
The various students that make up my small group bring a lot to the table. I recognize that a lot of them ask questions that I didn’t think of at that age and at the same time I don”t think that I was allowed to vocalize such questions. In my younger years I realized that my questions and doubts weren’t going to be allowed, or they would be and I would be looked upon as a decenter. I realize that in some Christian circles questions and doubting makes you out to be rebellious, or perhaps even a heretic when you think outside the box , but in the church I’m a part of now there is liberty and freedom to think differently and even bigger.
Yes there are parts of the Bible that are certainly black and white, but there is a lot of grey. I recognize that where I’m at as a follower of Christ has been shaped in part by what I learned growing up but there’s also what I have experienced in my life, hence the grey areas of the Bible that I am led to lean on in faith. The experiential model is the way most people read and engage what the Bible has to say, and granted there are times I scratch my head and wonder “how the heck did you get THAT out of reading the Bible?” For instance, when people speak of a vengeful God, a God who’s out to “get them” in anger and in fury…really? Have you read any of the New Testament, or are you still offering up regular sacrifices of grain and livestock…Still, some people make God out to be feared to a point that’s very unhealthy, but it’s views like these that only the person can resolve and workout on their own with the help of God.
I think that’s why there’s over 30,000 denominations across the globe. That differences are maybe not allowed and so a new denomination starts, and maybe sometimes differences are allowed but some individuals would rather split than be united despite the differences…these are mere guesses as to what might cause schisms amongst followers of Christ.
Still I believe in diversity and sharing from one’s perspective of what one believes about, well, pretty much anything. Yes there are times I do not agree with other followers of Christ’s views but I am sure others can say that about some my beliefs as well. I meditate on St. Francis of Assisi’s “make me an instrument of your peace” prayer when I am faced with the differences of views of others often, because I am prone to foot-in-mouth disease and I need to listen more than talk in such circumstances.
This quote is something I need to dwell on because it will help me out as a follower of Christ in my interaction with those who views differ from me. I need to be charitable in differences, and as a work in progress I am not there yet, but I’m getting there slowly but surely.