“Oh, I’m not like those Christians.”
I don’t know how many times I’ve uttered that sentence in the last decade or so. Sometimes it was said with disdain, other times with reassurance. Always with the intent to distinguish between them, whoever they were, and me.
The thing is, you could belong to one of those groups I disparaged. If you’ve ever said that sentence yourself, I could belong to the group you disparaged. We’re not talking about groups; we’re talking about our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Now can we differentiate our belief systems? Absolutely, but I believe there’s a way to do it that still honors the Imago Dei in all of us. I want to remember that in all of my interactions.
Starting with the interactions I haven’t had.
While reading Christena Cleveland’s Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces That Keep Us Apart, I made a mental list of people who would really benefit from reading it. I mean, they really need to read this book. I thought about the ways they’ve “othered” me and just knew this book would be the wake up call they needed.
And then I realized no one needed to read it more than me. Hello plank in my eye! So nice to see you again.
“We represent Jesus well when we draw near to other believers, regardless of difference…the more we follow Christ’s example by relinquishing Right Christian/Wrong Christian labels and crossing the boundaries of our world, the better we represent his vision to the world.” -p. 17
I have long believed in the power and beauty of a diverse circle of friends. We have so much to learn from each other, no matter our background, demographics, political party, or socioeconomic status. In fact, we need to learn from one another. Most especially if we call ourselves Christians.
The first step, however, is taking a look at who we’ve othered and that’s not always easy to recognize or admit, much less do something about it. It is humbling to admit we can be a part of the problem but it is essential we own up to the ways we contribute to disunity in the body of Christ.
Disunity in Christ is just the resource to help us open our eyes. I found it impossible to put down and how often can you say that about nonfiction? Cleveland offers personal stories, research, and well-reasoned theology to back up her points. She lovingly urges us to remove our blinders and become part of the solution to the division and vitriol that seems to be growing worse each year.
There’s a lot to think through. Once you get past thinking everyone else needs to read it.
This book sets the tone for what we’ll be reading the rest of 2015. We have some phenomenal books in the line up, some of which will stretch you. They all have the potential to open you up to another perspective.
Let’s dig down deep. Let’s examine the biases we all have. Let’s look at how often we think in terms of us vs. them. Let us do the hard and holy work of reconciliation.
Let’s figure out how we can really be women who love all, instead of women who love some. And may no hidden forces tear us asunder anymore.
Come back Wednesday, January 28 for our discussion post with Alia Joy. Join the Facebook group to share quotes and discuss the book throughout the month.
- Christena Cleveland’s blog
- 10 Reconciliation Books to Read (2014) via Christena Cleveland
- Reconciliation Books to Read (2013) via Christena Cleveland
- The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church From Western Cultural Captivity– Soong-Chan Rah
- Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Promise of Race in America– Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith
- If You Knew Me You Would Care– editor Zainab Salbi
- Forgive Us: Confessions of a Compromised Faith– Mae Elise Cannon, Lisa Sharon Harper, Troy Jackson, and Soong-Chan Rah
- One Church, Many Tribes– Richard Twiss
- Top 10: Conversation Deflections by Austin Channing
- Black Bodies White Souls by Austin Channing
- This Is The Movement (if you’re looking for practical resources and events)
Are you reading Disunity in Christ with us? Share your thoughts so far in the comments.