On September 22, 2016, Jessica and I were invited to attend an event at our alma mater, Texas Lutheran University. I’ll admit that we were pretty excited, for even though we had no idea what the event was, we were going to be attending as VIP Alumni, and really—who would pass up such an honor?
We arrived early for the VIP dinner, and it was there, over pork chops and mashed potatoes, that I found out what we were attending: a presentation from political consultants S. E. Cupp and Van Jones. These two analysts from differing sides of the political spectrum were touring colleges and universities to speak about the importance of young people engaging in the democratic process. They spent their time joking good-naturedly with each other as they impressed upon us this truth: what unites us as Americans is so much stronger than what threatens always to divide us. The night was a true blessing to all who attended, and I am so thankful that I was counted among them.
In the midst of the presentation, Van Jones said something on which I am still chewing. He said, “Conservatives ask questions primarily about liberty. Liberals ask questions primarily about justice. You need both for liberty and justice for all.” For our society and nation to live fully into our potential, we need the tension that is present in true community, in true life lived together.
I keep chewing on this statement because I am more and more convinced that this is absolutely true for the church as well. We need people asking different important, essential questions that spring out from the values we hold most dear, recognizing that it is the combination of these values that makes us who we are.
1. When it comes to worship, we need people who celebrate the traditions of the church, and we need people who are constantly seeking new ways to praise God together.
2. When it comes to vision and direction, we need people who speak into the importance of caring for the current family of faith, and we need people who constantly push us to expand the circle to those not yet a part of it.
3. When it comes to mission and service, we need people who focus on local outreach, and we need people who pursue a call to be the hands and feet of Christ in other settings.
We need people who ask different questions than we ourselves ask. We are a better people—a better church!—when we have each other. Like Jesus’ original apostles, we come from very different walks of life, points of view, and political/theological stances, but we gather as a people united with our Lord.
This week, may we celebrate our community that together serves as the Body of Christ in this community and be intentional about naming the blessing of each other to each other. I invite you to find someone within the church with whom you might not completely align—either theologically or politically—and have a conversation with them. Grab a cup of coffee or a meal together. Pray for each other. And celebrate the great gift that God has given you in the other.