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  • Rev. Annie McMillan

“Family of God”

For many years now, there have been religious wars raging. I’m not

talking Christianity versus Islam, or some kind of “War on God”. I’m talking

about the wars we Christians have within our own ranks: Conservative versus

Liberal, Faith versus deeds, Love versus belief.


In November 2012, CNN posted something called “the Red-state Blue-

state Jesus poll.” This poll included questions like “Do you think the most

important biblical passage that distills Jesus' message is John 3:16, "For God

so loved the world that he gave his one and only son," and that salvation is

determined by your acceptance of Jesus as savior? Or do you think it's

Matthew 25: "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine,

you did for me," and that salvation is determined by how you treat the poor

and vulnerable?” The poll was cute, but it forced choices we shouldn’t be

making, and further divided Christians. We don’t need that kind of poll- then

or now. We’re doing just fine dividing ourselves without it.


We almost come to hate each other, claiming those who believe

differently aren’t “real” Christians, or that they give Christianity a bad name.

Maybe some of you have risen above this division. I’d love to claim that I

have, but it can be easy to think poorly of fellow Christians who hold

priorities and beliefs that are so different from my own. I know that I have

difficulty with those who don’t believe in women’s ordination, and claim that

I, as a female preacher, am leading the church astray. And yet, they are my

siblings in Christ.


So are some of those on university campuses who are protesting their

university’s support of Israel due to the war in Gaza. As well as some of the

counter protesters- fellow siblings in Christ. For some, being Christian means

picketing PrideFest. For others, it means having a tent at PrideFest to support,

show love, and perhaps share information; or even share “God loves you as

you are, and so do I.”


All of these are our siblings in Christ. And therefore we are to love

these brothers and sisters in Christ who are so different from us- the

estranged and the self-entitled. The poor and oppressed, as well as often those

who end up oppressing. This does not mean we need to approve of

everything they do, even if they believe they’re doing it in Christ’s name. Nor

do we have to approve of how they do it. Loving our siblings in Christ does

not necessarily mean that we need to feel warm and fuzzy about them. But

we are called to love them.


As I tried to wrap my head around this, I thought about some of my

own family. I have an aunt, uncle, and cousin who are members of a PCA

church, a denomination which teaches women should not be ordained, as

elder, deacon, or minister. And yet, when my grandmother died and I led the

graveside and the funeral, they told me how meaningful it was. I love my

family, even though we strongly disagree on this point. We support each

other. I think that is part of how we love each other as siblings in Christ.


This might mean praying for fellow Christians- not that God changes

them to be more like us, but that Christ might be in their lives, helping them

where they need it. That the Spirit might help them through whatever

difficulties life gives them. That their faith holds fast. That God’s love shines

brightly in their lives each and every day. If they are people we know or who

are in our communities, it might mean praying for specific areas in their lives

where they acknowledge a need for prayer. Or maybe it means helping them

with something unrelated, or listening to them after a difficult protest.

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born from

God. Whoever loves someone who is a parent loves the child born to the

parent.”


Thanks be to God.

Alleluia! Amen.

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