The Light of Love

Feb 06, 2012

As we grow into the relationship with Christ, Love’s light shines brightly in the bright and dark corners of our psyche, illuminating both our “good deeds” and our shadowy feelings about and actions towards other people. Our judgment, condemnation and fear of other people have to go, if we are ever to feel Love’s presence in our lives, especially since these judgments, etc., so often apply to other Christians as well as those of other religions, ethnic groups, strangers and enemies.

The principle voiced by Paul in 1 Corinthians, Ephesians and Colossians comes down to this: we are all members of the body of Christ, all essential to the make-up of the whole church, all intended by the Spirit to form one body “whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”[1] I have come to think of the whole body of Christ, the church itself, as including the whole Christian Church, with each denomination serving a particular function in the body of Christ, just as each part of the body, be it organ or sinew or bone, is an essential part of the functioning of the body.

Also I think of the other parts of the one church as performing their God-giving gifts and giving the other parts of the church the freedom to express their own. Imagine if all the parts of our physical bodies wanted to be the heart or the liver. The body could not function at all. The heart specializing in pumping blood and oxygen throughout the body allows the brain to think and the liver and bladder to filter out the poisons and so on. The heart depends on the filtering ability of those two organs, so that it is free to pump life-giving blood. It’s the same with the church: if every part of the body of Christ thought it had to be the heart or the brain, the body of Christ would fail.

Just as the physical body needs a brain, a heart, a liver, lungs, gall bladder, arms, legs and feet just to name a few different parts all arising from the same original stem cells, now specialized, so the whole body of Christ, the church, needs Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Evangelicals, Pentacostals, Mormons and other sects in order to express the wide range of functionality in the body of Christ as well as all the different ways in which people hear the Gospel and relate to Jesus Christ. Just as in the physical body where all organs and tissue and bones arise from the same stem cells, these different denominations and sects all arise from the same teachings, the Bible undergirded by the action of the Holy Spirit.

My argument is this: we need the evangelicals’ knowledge of the Bible and their adherence to the Word, as well as we need the mainline Protestants embrace of new ways of interpreting those same passages, as well as the Pentacostals’ emphasis on the action of the Holy Spirit, as well as the Catholics’ sense of Mystery and Presence, as well as the Method of the Methodists, the collective governance of the Presbyterians, the congregational governance of other denominations, the top-down authority of the Catholics and the individuals’ ability to form his/her own relationship with God with no intermediary needed, the steeped–in-the-liturgy churches and the liturgy-free ones, the churches who stress social justice and those who measure the quality of the relationship with Christ. All these express different dynamics and teachings of Jesus on how to live out the Gospel message.

Each denomination’s gift and contribution to the whole church allows the rest of us to make our own contribution without diluting our efforts by having to generalize the Gospel. Each denomination makes its contribution to the whole church, which we collectively offer up to the Lord of all the churches, Christ. We all participate in the one body, the one church of Christ, inspired by the Holy Spirit. We live Jesus’ teachings when we embrace the whole church in love and are able to be inspired by how others “do” Christianity. So much good would come to the world, so much love would be born here, if we Christians weren’t so judgmental, condemning and fearful of each other.





[1] 1 Corinthians 12:12-4. See also Ephesians 4:25 and Colossians 1:24.

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