Today, I’m participating in the She Reads Truth devotional-writing project. You can read more about the project and check out other SRT readers’ devotionals here.
Oh, Jonah. Enough already. Don’t be one of *those* followers of God.
Do you know the ones I’m talking about? The Christians who get so caught up in getting upset about what other Christians believe that they lose sight of what we’re called to do? Jonah’s from the Old Testament, of course, but he reminds me of some of my fellow Christians who focus more on disagreements between denominations than they do on what we share.*
So as much as I identify with Jonah in chapters 1-2, I get aggravated with him at this point. He was sent to preach the Word to the people of Nineveh, but he was upset when they changed their ways and God saved them.
Newsflash, Jonah: that was the point. You succeeded. You fulfilled your calling.
Yet you’re displeased? You’re angry? These people don’t match your personal definition of followers of God, so you run off and pout?
This is why I’m reminded of Christians who focus more on what divides us than what unites us.
It makes me think of my favorite part of “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis:
“I hope no reader will suppose that ‘mere’ Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to the creeds of the existing communions…It is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms. If I can bring anyone into that hall I shall have done what I attempted. But it is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in. For that purpose the worst of the rooms (whichever that may be) is, I think, preferable…
“When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the whole house.”
Isn’t that the truth? Aren’t we all here to bring people into the hall of Christianity, to bring them in out of the cold and rain that is the secular world and show them the warmth and safety that only He can provide?
Why are we getting so caught up in which room they choose off of that hallway?
I know that there is a level of importance to these disagreements, and I realize they need to be discussed by spiritual leaders and followers alike, but when we let these disagreements get in the way of sharing the Word, we’re failing to do the most important task we’ve been given.
When we focus on differences in high theology, we lose people looking for simple truths.
When we focus on groups we think should be condemned, we lose people looking for a place of love.
When we appear to be more divided than united, we lose people looking for connection and community.
So let’s focus on that hall, shall we? Because if there’s anything we share, if there’s anything that unites us, it’s that the greatest of these is love.
*I should probably include a disclaimer that I don’t mean cults or other extremists who claim to be based in Christianity. I mean different typical denominations and their disagreements.