I have complained recently to my wife that I don’t like the diversity of belief within the church. I hate that, despite differing views on everything, so many people still call themselves Christians. The reason I hate it is that I feel like my way of thinking is not only the best way, but the right way of thinking. I feel like I have theology nailed, and everyone else should fall in line with me. I feel like the expert.
This morning, I sat in a room of people that I perceived to be people that think the way that I do. We are all a part of what might best be called the teaching team at my church, under the heading of the “Adult Sunday School Leadership Team”. We were working through our core-est of core classes at Imago together at the Chiara Center, which I talked a little about yesterday. Our discussion was based on how we should tell the story of the Bible in our three core classes (Israel, Jesus, New Testament) in some sort of coherent, cohesive manner.
The crazy thing was, despite the fact that I know all of these people, and my assumption that we all basically think the same way about the story of Scripture, we were not in complete agreement. Our pathways to our conclusions are completely different. One sees Jesus as a rabble-rouser, one sees Jesus as turning everything upside down, and another sees Jesus as setting things right side up. We argued, were confused, and disagreed cordially on how we go about teaching about the story that we find ourselves in.
Through the course of 2 hours, we landed on a few key themes in the Old Testament that we should focus on when it comes to teaching the story of Israel: Promise, Identity, Shalom, and Redemption. These themes worked until we started talking about Jesus. I felt like these themes would work when talking about Jesus, but others just couldn’t latch onto it. We landed on the theme of Kingdom throughout the story of Israel, Jesus, and the New Testament. We got a lot of work accomplished, but it was weird because it took so much time.
I realized today that we all approach Scripture with a myriad number of lenses. We don’t all see everything as having equal importance. I think that the Law that was given to the Israelites at Sinai as being the most important, but others, including the Lead Pastor of our church, have a hard time making that connection. It was truly a lot of work to submit mutually to one another and come to a final conclusion. But we did. We worked hard and determined that none of us has any idea what we are talking about. I realized that all of us together, working in unison, have a better way of thinking about the story that we find ourselves in than any of us do on our own.
Today I celebrate the diversity in the church. We are only as good as the community that we belong to. And this community, at Imago, is doing the hard work of collaborating to accomplish something way beyond what any of us is capable of doing individually. We are the body, and the body is only as good as the sum of its parts. Something beautiful is afoot, and I’m glad to be a part of it.