We were in Jerusalem at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the traditional burial place of Jesus. We stood in line inside the huge domed center waiting to enter a small stone hut that allowed a glimpse of the rock where Jesus was laid supposedly. Priests from competing denominations who control that church kept walking through in all their royal garb waving censers smoking with incense. One after another shoved through the crowd to purify the area from the previous priest. Obviously the area had not been purified enough by someone from a different denomination.
Several thoughts ran through my mind.
First, “You’re all polluting the air in this church with several hundred people lined up, all jammed together on a hot afternoon with no air conditioning. Could you knock it off?”
Second, “I wonder what a non-believer thinks about this circus?”
And third, “I wonder what Jesus thinks about it all?”
Many people I’ve met who are militantly atheist I have a feeling got that way because of some disgusting display of self righteousness in a church. And they were so turned off by it they linked that to God and never wanted anything to do with him again.
That’s why I think this passage is so important as Paul talks about the unity we’re supposed to have.
He says, “For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.” (Ephesians 4: 4 NLT)
I’ve seen churches fight about who is the one true church. Denominations claim to be the chosen ones. And everyone else, well they just can’t be sure.
Yet, this passage says there is only one body. Oops.
So Christians play the “who has more of the Spirit” game. They talk about how they are more filled with the Spirit than someone else. Somehow they got an extra helping.
Yet, this passage says there’s only one Spirit. And he lives in every believer fully from day one.
And third all of this implies an in group and an out group.
Yet, this says there’s only one hope for our future. And we’re invited into this new life by it.
I wonder what would happen if believers stopped focusing on excluding those they think don’t fit and instead focused on trying to include every one they could?
Where have you seen the exclusion game played?