This week at GCF – Truth and Hospitality: Being the body of Christ when we disagree
Have you ever wondered why there are so many different church denominations?
According the ever-reliable Wikipedia there are at least 40 denominational groups in the world, and that doesn’t include all the divisions within each broadly-defined denomination.
And then there are divisions within individual churches. Or the dividing lines that arise within Christian campus groups like IVCF or Campus for Christ, with which some of you are familiar.
As a Christian community that strives both to seek truth and to be a safe place for honest questioning and discussion, Graduate Christian Fellowship (both alumni and the current community) includes people who hold various theological beliefs and social values. What binds us together as a Christian community?
“I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:1-6, NRSV)
Sure, sure, you’re saying. All Christians believe in the unity of the church. But there’s still all these different (and often very strongly held) beliefs within it! Isn’t it easier if we just attend churches and join groups of people who share our particular outlook, so that we maintain some small pockets of unity and avoid the discomfort that disagreement can cause?
Well, GCF aims to be a different kind of Christian community. A place where our faith and our ideas can be shared honestly, discussed openly, and challenged gently. A community in which we trust that the sincerity of our faith will not be questioned just because we happen to disagree with others or raise uncomfortable questions. A community that is steadfastly dedicated to seeking truth in Scripture and creation, even when our understandings of the specifics differ. A place where all our conversations, even (and especially?) our disagreements, are infused with grace, humility, and love, so that we needn’t become bitter or feel rejected. A community in which both shared vulnerability and shared faith promote growth.
No one ever said it would be easy.
But if you’ve been a part of the GCF community for any length of time, you know it’s worth the effort.
Join us on Thursday, January 7 at 6pm for dinner, followed by a Bible study and conversation about truth, difference, and Christian communities.
I look forward to your contribution.
Sara Gerritsma DeMoor