Today we pick-up the conversation about what it means to live in diverse community, and particularly with people you deeply disagree. Previously we laid the ground work, and then offered reflection on the how to live in such a community. Today, we consider some of the theological ideas that give me hope that this is possible.
Perhaps this is where I see the biggest potential for congregations. Where do we find hope in the tough times of community? What brings us together in spite of ourselves? If people feel safe to ask questions, the real wrestling of faith can happen together. Not everyone will agree, and that is okay. But people can come together in their beautiful diversity because of their shared identity. It’s this shared identity which provides theological solace.
So what is this shared identity? It can be described in a number of ways. Some include: Child of God; Brothers and Sisters of Christ; Loved and Beloved Child of God called and sent to love; broken but loved human being; created and loved Child of God; saint and sinner; Christian; etc. The only caveat to these identities has to be a willingness to admit that we may not know all, but that we share our core identity as someone created and loved by God (in all the complexity of what love means as friend Hannah Heinzekehr explained on Valentine’s Day). That’s what brings us together in community in spite of ourselves and our different perspectives and values. These identities transcend our human limitations and any human and human community created barriers.
Our hope for overcoming our differences comes out of an understanding of Genesis 2, that we were all created good (but not perfect). That God has made us co-creators with God. That we are called and led into community because of the love of God, and gathered and sent because of that same love. The response to the good news of the gospel is not that we are obligated to tell people, its rather that the good news overwhelms us with joy and all we can do in response to it (because its a gift and free gift we can’t earn) is to give thanks and praise and to go and share the news in joy through the way we love, serve, grow, and engage community and the world.
This isn’t easy. I admit that. Sometimes, the biggest hurdle is being honest that the most important thing isn’t “being right” but being open to different ideas and that different people have different perspectives (including especially about how one reads and interprets the Bible as Nate Pyle recently reminded). The importance is that we don’t put up barriers to others based on our perspectives, because once we create those barriers we limit community.
Overall, I believe this is what it looks like to live in diverse community. We come together in our beautiful uniqueness, in our brokenness, and in our shared identity as children of God. If that is what we focus on, I think we really can live in diverse community. But, what do you think? What does this look like for you? How does this appear manifest in your congregation?
Image Credits: Child of God.