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18 February 2010

Today’s Reading: Numbers 3-4; Acts 25

Scripture:

17 So when they came down here I got right on the case. I took my place in the courtroom and put the man on the stand. 18 The accusers came at him from all sides, 19 but their accusations turned out to be nothing more than arguments about their religion and a dead man named Jesus, who the prisoner claimed was alive. (Acts 25:17-19 MSG)

The new Roman governor Festus didn’t know the Jewish culture like his predecessor Felix. When he took office the Jews immediately demanded he sentence Paul to death and he responded quickly, thinking that Paul must be a terrible criminal. When he met Paul and heard the charges against him, it didn’t make sense. What he heard was, to his inexperienced ear, “Arguments about their religion and a dead man named Jesus.”

It’s difficult for non-Christians to understand why Christian denominations have such a hard time getting along with each other. We divide over issues like: Worship styles, Church government, How to baptize, Dress codes, Women’s roles, Which Bible translation to use, and all sorts of doctrinal points. To the outsider, it all seems so pointless. To them it’s “arguments about religion and a dead man named Jesus.”

I wonder how it is we can agree with other Christians on 19 points out of 20 and still think we’re so right and they’re so wrong we can’t love them. I wonder how we can place disagreement about our interpretation of a Bible verse above our common faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit who lives in us, and the fact that we are all children of Abba Father who loves us all the same! Do you ever wonder about this stuff?

I keep remembering the saying first attributed to Augustine, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity.” Jesus prayed for our unity and said that the world would know we are his followers by the our love for each other.

Maybe I need a sticker on my car that says: How’s My Unity? Call 1-800-OUR-LOVE

Prayer:

Father, I know this isn’t easy, but please help me to know what things need to be issues and which don’t. Help me to be at peace with others who see things differently and to be a bringer of peace in relationships. And above all, let me love the rest of your kids. Amen.

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