Over the past six months, I’ve had the opportunity to do something most pastors only dream about: visit and worship with other churches in their city. I’ve seen the Holy Spirit stir souls through shouts of ‘Can I get a witness in here!’ to the more somber reflections of an organ playing Come Thou Fount.
I’ve heard about congregations fighting against domestic abuse, partnering with schools to provide tutoring to at-risk students, and even hosting a prom for students with special needs. I’ve seen Jesus’ name exalted from men and women of every skin color and in a dozen languages.
And somewhere along the way of celebrating with my brothers and sisters, my heart broke.
How in God’s green earth did I not know what was happening in churches around my city? The closest analogy I can imagine is suddenly discovering you had not just one unknown sibling, but literally thousands of brothers and sisters living within walking distance. How many opportunities had I missed in engaging with my family? How long had I assumed just because they dressed differently, had a different skin hue, or spoke a different language, they were any less a part of my family?
Madison is a community reeling from division. A quick look at the statics and it’s clear our city is a dream come true for half our population and never ending nightmare for the other half. We’ve gotten so good at demonizing the ‘other,’ whoever the other may be, that conversations turn toxic. At the first sign of dissent we lash out, splitting the chasm further apart. We’re hurting, and hurting people hurt people.
Yet within walking distance was my unknown family who I could have walked hand in hand with, and I didn’t even know they existed. How did this happen?
Then it started making sense. If believers really are the body of Christ on earth, then we need each other to function properly as that body. So Satan told us a lie. He convinced us we didn’t belong to one another, that our difference meant we were separate. As long as each individual part of the body didn’t know the other existed, it severely limited our potential. It was like a one handed pianist, or a blind tour guide.
Yet I also saw a hint of what it could look like if we worked together for the good of our city. United for the common welfare of our community, what could we achieve, what barriers could we break down?
Do teachers need more tutors? We have tens of thousands of volunteers who are commanded to ‘love our neighbors as ourselves.’
Do we need diverse voices to sit down and learn from each other? Our Father has children from every race, background, apartment complex, and cul de sac.
Do we need to repent for past sins? Seeking forgiveness and taking action are the heartbeats of what it means to be Christian.
What would happen if the body of Christ stood up at one time, for one cause, to simply tell and show our city we loved it? Regardless if they shared our same faith, we shared the same love. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing us we don’t belong to one another.
My brothers and sisters, what would it look like if we stopped falling for the lie?