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My Weekend (evolving into a rant about church unity)

I've sat here for a while composing the first few words of this post. The options I have floated to myself have been:

"I don't..."

"Do Do Do Do..."

"I wanna be Kate!"

But none of them seemed right.

A lot has happened lately. I was on a leader's weekend away this weekend. It was good to hang out with the youth leaders for this year, they're good fun.

I also went to the opening service for College (the old one). It was a good chance to get a bit of closure and see some of my old friends. In the service I had to pray up the front. It was a little worrying because I was praying in front of a few Sydney Anglican big wigs. Like the Bishop. I spent most of the service trying to compose the prayer so would have the theology right. Then I realised that it is silly composing your prayers too much because you aren't praying to Sydney Anglicans you're praying to God. And so I just prayed. Once I finished though, I started analysing the prayer again.

I said at the end something like "And I pray that God continues to use this College to show the world his gospel and his glory." And I had visions of people coming up to me later and saying "Tell me, what is the difference between God's glory and his gospel? Wouldn't you say that the gospel is God's glory?"

And then I would disintegrate under the stares of the some of the world's most influential conservative, Evangelical theologians.

Ok, so I might be talking them up a bit (Uncle Pete wasn't even there), but it does sound good. I have never been quizzed on my theology by a Bishop, College Dean (except for tuitional purposes) or anyone else before for that matter. Except perhaps that kid in Canberra who asked me what the one thing that made Christianity different from every other religion was. I quite like Sydney Anglicans. I am one. And while I acknowledge that we Sydney Anglicans have been known to be a bit arrogant, too conservative for our own good, or just a little forgetful of some important bits in the Bible, there is a great heart for the gospel in us. And I don't think it's all as bad as everyone makes out, we just have failings like the rest of the Christian world.

We discussed church unity in staff meeting last Monday, and I’d been thinking about it a bit lately. I’m a little sick of all the church bashing that goes on amongst Christians. We seem to ignore how important unity is, how much Jesus values it. It was the last thing he prayed for before he got arrested, but we don’t seem to remember that, we just rip into each other in the name of the right way of doing Christianity.

It’s just silly. It seems to me that we Christians spend so much time trying to get the speck out of each other’s eyes, that we don’t notice that we’re bashing Jesus around the head with the planks in our own eyes. Everyone has something to accuse someone else of. The Evangelicals accuse the Pentecostals of putting too much emphasis on their feelings and experiences, the Pentecostals say that the Evangelicals worship the Bible. The Liberal Theology people accuse the Conservatives of being bigots, the Conservatives accuse the Liberals of being soft. The Social Justice people accuse the Conservative Evangelicals of forgetting the poor, the Conservative Evangelicals accuse the Social Justice people of forgetting the gospel. The Anglicans accuse the Hillsong people of teaching prosperity doctrine, and I don’t know what the Hillsong people say about the Anglicans, I haven’t asked them.

I’m just sick of it all.

Sure there are problems. We all have problems. But why do we have to expend so much energy tearing each other down. We all love Jesus, we’re all doing our best. While I’m a Sydney Anglican I’ll do my best to keep urging us to be good teachers of the gospel, lovers of the poor and marginalised, and followers of Jesus (with all that that entails). When I join Hillsong, I’ll do the same, when I join the Uniting Church, I’ll do the same. But until then I want to do my best to encourage my brothers and sisters from other churches.

I haven’t quite figured out where we have a responsibility to encourage each other to a biblical faith. After all, we are not really defined by our denomination, but by our faith in Christ. So in some ways I do have an obligation when I see my brother or sister, of any church, doing something which I think is not in keeping with the Bible to encourage them adjust their behaviour. I do believe that we should all keep each other accountable.

I think perhaps the key is in who you talk to about problems. I shouldn’t spend my time telling all my other Anglican friends how much I don’t like the Baptists (actually I quite like the Baptists). Sometimes I should keep my mouth shut, or if I really have a problem, I should go talk to the Baptists about it. It’s hard to do that, it’s so easy to engage in the verbal bashing of other Christian groups. There’s no risk when you’re amongst friends and it makes you feel righteous. I’ve done it way too often.

If we really are to have unity, I think we need to get better on this one. I can’t think of an easy way to fix the problem, so I’ll just keep plugging away and asking others Christians to join me in doing the same.