“When he (Jehu) left there, he met Jehonadab son of Rechab coming to meet him; he greeted him, and said to him, ‘Is your heart as true to mine as mine is to yours?’ Jehonadab answered, ‘It is.’ Jehu said, ‘If it is, give me your hand.’” (2 Kings 10:15, NRSV)
“…A man of a catholic spirit is one who, …, gives his hand to all whose hearts are right with his heart.” (John Wesley, Sermon 39, “Catholic Spirit”)
“Ever since I became a Christian I have thought that the best, perhaps the only, service I could do for my unbelieving neighbours was to explain and defend the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times.” (C.S. Lewis, Preface to Mere Christianity)
In his Preface to Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis points out that as Christians we have much more in common in our theology than we have that separates us. The major things that separate us, he says, are issues on High Theology and ecclesiastical history. Lewis points out that these things are much too confusing for individuals who do not yet know Jesus Christ. Lewis also believes that these issues should not be discussed with individuals who remain outside of the Church to prevent them from becoming jaded or confused by these insider arguments.
As you can see from the quotes I chose for this article, Lewis is not the only Christian throughout history who felt this way. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, also felt strongly that Christians could work together, even when their beliefs on certain issues differed from one another. Wesley felt strongly that there were some matters that a Christian should not back down on, but when a person’s belief did not contradict one of these key beliefs, we should think and let think.
Many individuals that we are trying to reach today won’t consider coming to church because of the amount of fighting that takes place between and inside denominations. It is through the infighting that the love of Jesus Christ is most often lost. It is up to us as the Church of Jesus Christ to change this image by working together to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
I believe that when we begin focusing on the things that we hold in common we will find that our differences only enhance our ministry. Even though there are some issues that still need to be discussed, we must find a way to do so in a loving manner. The future of the Church depends on us living as Christians who walk hand in hand together.
I am grateful that we as First United Methodist Church of Sheridan are so willing to work with other congregations from our community through the work of our Alliance. I would ask that you continue to pray for and participate in this work as we continue to make plans to feed the hungry children of our county again this summer. I also pray that by working together we can show our community and the world that Christ still has the power to unite through ministry!
Rev. John Embrey