(1st of 2 parts)
How small is the earth to him who looks from heaven.
The call to oneness is a call to see things from a different vantage point, a different perspective. Paul has said that we are seated with Christ in heavenly places. It is from there that oneness begins. Imagine the view from a high place. From the heavenly places we would see two things are true about the world, it is imperfect, and it is incomplete. Yet, from the heavenly places, where the end is seen even from the beginning, these â€œrealitiesâ€ become of little concern. The coming of eternity heals them both. That isnâ€™t to say that earthly things are of no concern. Of course not. The poor and the oppressed are ever on the mind of God. It could be said that every living soul is a doorway to heaven. The door may be locked, but if it is, it waits for a key. Relationships are the business of heavenâ€”eternal business. The problems begin when we become concerned with issues and ideologies; policies and procedures. When we are drawn into those things we have abandoned the heaven-born perspective and backed away from people. We seat ourselves in earthly places and see through intellect and reason. Peace becomes a movement rather than a facet of Godâ€™s character. Prosperity becomes a goal rather than a blessing; life an issue more than a sacred trust; liberty an idea, not a gift.
All of this is drawn from the experience we had with a young couple who were a part of our church community for a timeâ€”sadly a short time. World events had been burdensome. America was going to war in the Middle East and the couple, pacifists with heartfelt feelings about the wisdom of any war and this war in particular, had spent some time in street marches downtown making their feelings known. Truthfully, I had my own questions about the wisdom of war. Having lived through the Viet Nam era, I had no fantasies about the infallibility of American foreign policy. Furthermore, my son was about to become one of the pawns in the game. I didnâ€™t like it one bit.
The presence of this couple gave our faith community, young and old, an occasion to consider our calling in the world, both individually and collectively. We discovered a good deal of diversity in our viewpoints. Diversity is good, right? Well, yes, but it is also challenging. When people of good conscience come together and discover that their passions donâ€™t resonate in exactly the same ways itâ€™s tempting to write each other off. We may find ourselves holding others a prisoner to our conscience.
Such moments represent an opportunity for the church.
(to be continued)