I read two very interesting articles last week about the Presbyterian Church in the USA. They have voted to: (1) allow their pastors to officiate at same-sex marriages in states where such marriages are legal; and (2) stop investing in companies that provide the goods and services used by Israel to harass Palestinians – in particular, destroying their homes. The Presbyterian Church “no longer wanted to profit from investing in companies that have a hand in the destruction of people’s homes and lives. … it will now shift some of its investments into economic development programs in the Palestinian territories.”
What I find interesting about this is how quickly people get up in arms over such decisions. People are quick to protest and even threaten to leave the church. This got me thinking about the whole history of Christianity. Ever since the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches split in 1054, it’s been one disagreement after another, causing Christians to be divided into more and more denominations. When will this ever end?
I wonder how things might have been different if everyone had just stayed together – and accepted the fact that there will be disagreements. As long as a person loves the Lord Jesus Christ and desires to follow the two greatest commandments as taught by the Lord – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40) – then that person remains part of the Church. Christianity would be so much more credible if everyone truly felt welcome.
This subject touches me personally because I often feel external pressure to leave the Church because I don’t believe all the man-made doctrines that we’re “supposed” to believe as Christians. Yet, in the depths of my heart and spirit, I feel that I belong, that Jesus WANTS me to stay, to refuse to give in to those who try to make me feel somehow unworthy to be a member of the Church.
Why does it matter if we have different beliefs, if we disagree with the most recent votes or changes in teaching? My hope for Christianity – and for the whole world – is that we can learn to stay together, to love each other, regardless of our differences. Instead of creating more and more divisions, may we look for ways to reunite and stay united. Although we differ in some respects, we have one main point of union: We are all children of one heavenly Father who loves each one of us unconditionally. Let us celebrate that love!