There is a small little community/town in the middle of Wichita called Eastborough. Wichita people will know it because you have most likely gotten a ticket there. In the middle of one of the main roads in town, Eastborough pops out of nowhere and rigidly enforces a 20 mph speed limit. There are times when I will add three miles to a trip just to avoid it.
The rules of Eastborough are simple. Play by our rules, do things our way, or we will come after you.
I wonder if we have begun to treat Christian community the same way.
I have been really chewing on a tweet from Josh Graves a few weeks ago:
Liberals say “we’re all the same” Fundamentalists say “we should all be afraid”-Christians say, “Here’s a table. Come and eat/drink a meal.”
I think one of the most distinctive marks of Christianity is that we are called to love those who are different from us. But we are often most known for the exact opposite. And I think this is because as humans, not just Christians, we tend to expect others to play by our rules.
When they don’t, we dig our heels in until people comply. The problem with digging our heels in, is that all it really accomplishes is getting the other party to dig their heels in too. The more we dig in, they more they respond in kind. What if, instead, we began to focus on the places we could come together? What if we moved towards one another rather than digging in our heels? What if our differences were things we could celebrate?
One of our goals of this blog is to discuss community. You could break that word up into “common” “unity”. What if we spent more time on things that connected us, rather than the things that divided us? Because when we do this, those differences seem to be a lot less important. Even if the common place is as simple as a table.
Everybody has to eat.
Last week, my friend Niki shared with me some of her sermon notes. She talked about the other side of this. When friendships are based around commonality only, the friendship will deteriorate at the first sign of disagreement or conflict. But when we our view of people deepens and we consider them family, we are then able to tolerate a little more dysfunction. The common bond allows for more differences and can even celebrate them.
When we invite people to a table, we are inviting them into something sacred. We are inviting them into community with us and sharing a special bond. When we have a place where we share something essential to life, the differences become much less important and glaring.
And we may just find that the differences are where we begin to grow.
What are some places in your life that you can celebrate differences?