Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Community of Disciples

I recently picked up a couple of titles by one of my favorite authors, Eugene Peterson. I was reading along in Christ Plays In Ten Thousand Places when I was struck by the following paragraph.

The impulse to sectarianism has its roots in "selfism," the conceit that I don't need others as they are but only for what they can do for me. Selfism reduces life to my appetites and needs and preferences. Selfism results in expulsion from the Garden. But once out there "on our own," east of Eden, we find that we can't quite make it without a little help, so we join forces with a few others out of necessity, meanwhile fiercely insisting on our independence and excluding all who don't fit our preferences. We become a sect. Sects are composed of men and women who reinforce their basic selfism by banding together with others who are pursuing similar brands of selfism, liking the same foods, believing in the same idols, playing the same games, despising the same outsiders. Early on selfism developed into sectarianism to build a tower to heaven without having to bother with the God of heaven. The attempt disintegrated into a snake pit of sects, each incomprehensible to the other. Babel is the mother city of sectarianism. With the call of Abraham, the long, slow, complex, and still continuing movement to pull all these selves into a people of God community began. The birthing of the Jesus community on the Day of Pentecost was an implicit but emphatic repudiation and then reversal of Babel sectarianism. (From "Christ Plays In Ten Thousand Places" by Eugene Peterson page 241-242)

All Christians agree that Jesus wants us to be united, all Christians agree that it is sinful for Christians to be divided, all Christians agree that the world will always have an easy time mocking our faith and Savior so long as we remain divided. Yet few Christians are willing to lay down their "faith family brand" to move closer to the Savior and to one another. Communities are not formed through agreement on doctrine and philosophy, they are formed by people loving one another. That is why Jesus was so insistent that we love one another...

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