11. We are an ecumenical community. In sacred history, God has allowed many different streams. They are all refreshing in different ways. So we reject party spirit in any of its forms, secure in who we are and where God has us; refusing to mold others to our own understanding of truth. Other people do not have to be the same as us. We are developing a theology which is comfortable in difference. In the freedom that a desire for unity brings, we are to dismantle the walls between separated sisters and brothers across religious and secular boundaries.
What’s so inspiring to me about this Understanding is that we’re not alone in the thoughts and ideals contained here. I’m hearing these same thoughts and expressions from others. For example, one of my favorite musicians is Trevor Hall. He has a song titled, Unity. In it, he states:
Whatever path you follow push on till tomorrow
Love all serve all and create no sorrow
So many rivers but they all reach the sea
They telling me he’s different but I just don’t believe it
Love is the goal yes, and everyone shall reach it
Whoever seeks it
Seen and unseen
St Paul echoes these very sentiments in his first letter to the followers of Jesus in Corinth (12.12ff). He states that followers of Christ are not all the same - we’re all different - and that’s a good thing. He then compares followers of Jesus to the human body. The human body is made up of many different “parts.” Not everything is an eye. The human body is not made up of ears. The human body is not made up of hands or feet or intestines or hearts or lungs, etc., etc. It takes all of those things (and more) for the human body to perform properly (and let’s not forget things like air and water and light and love).
Likewise, people who follow Jesus aren’t always like us. They aren’t supposed to be. And, here’s the shocker for a lot of people, they may not even be part of the Christian tradition! Jesus stated that he had “sheep that don’t belong to this pen” - that is, people who were outside of the religious and national institutions of his day. But, they would follow him and they would join other followers. There would be “one flock” with “one shepherd” (John 10.14-16).
So, I encourage us to look to others for the light and life of god. Perhaps, if you’re a little weary to venture out of the Christian family, look to others who hold different views and positions. If you’re a Protestant, read some blogs, articles, books by Catholics. If you’re Catholic, read articles, blogs, and books by Orthodox Christians. If you’re Baptist, read some stuff from Pentecostals. Perhaps even start an ecumenical study group. Whatever we end up doing, we need to challenge our understandings to find unity between ourselves and others.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br Jack+, LC