Friday, May 17, 2013

Fellowship With One Another

Recently the youth group I help lead got to hear a guest speaker talking about his work as an aviator missionary in Mongolia. It was very interesting to hear about the various flights he has made as well as about the culture of the country he serves in.

After his talk, there was a question and answer period, and he was asked about the church in Mongolia, and if there is anything the North American church could learn from them.

He said in Mongolia the church has no denominations. He said we could learn to put aside our differences and focus on what unifies us - the gospel, loving people.

No denominations. I can barely imagine what it is like to have no denominations. I never really considered that outside of North America there are places where the Church does not experience the same fragmentation that we do here. I am so used to being divided by secondary issues, that it truly surprised me to think about a Christian community that does not define itself by the details of what it believes outside of Christ.

All of this made me me think of a quote I read in The Good and Beautiful Community by James Bryan Smith. He writes, "We simply must not divide over things we cannot fully understand. Especially in light of the fact that what we can understand, what is not a murky mystery but a blinding truth, is something we can all agree on: Jesus is Lord! If your heart beats in love for Jesus, then take my hand and we will walk together in fellowship." Our differences of opinion on the things we can only partially understand do not override our unity on the one essential thing we do understand. Again Smith says, "If you do not look, act, worship or believe as I do, but your heart beats in love for Jesus, then regardless of our differences, we can and must have fellowship with one another."

What does it look like to have fellowship with one another, regardless of non-essential beliefs? It would not be merely putting up with each other. It would mean genuinely having community with each other - love, growth, mutual grace and taking care of one another. It would mean understanding that there are a diverse number of ways to faithfully follow Christ. It would mean being humble enough to recognize that my own understanding of Scripture and of who God is, is still just a best attempt at truly seeing the truth, and that we have a more complete picture together.

I looked up the word fellowship, and one of the things I found was that it is directly related to the words communion and community. If you are a follower of Jesus, then you are in community with every other follower of Jesus. We are united around Christ, around His grace and love. We are united around the sacrifice He made which broke his body and shed his blood for our redemption. We are united around the table, around remembering and celebrating Christ. We are a diverse, beautiful group of people that have fellowship based on Jesus Christ alone.

If your heart beats in love for Jesus, then take my hand and we will walk together in fellowship

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