This weekend, I was driving to a friend's church to lead worship for a Good Friday service. On the way, I saw a motorcycle rider on a sport bike--a small, brightly-colored bike built for speed-- quickly wave at a passing biker who was riding a cruiser--a Harley-styled bike with lots of chrome and loud pipes built for enjoying the open road. Two strangers on completely different types of bikes who were bound by one common bond--the love of having two less wheels underneath them than the average highway vehicle. As I saw that, I thought back to my days a few years ago when I had a Jeep Wranger TJ. Before I bought the Jeep, I took it for a test drive and noticed that as I passed other Jeep drivers they would wave. Not just a small wave either, but a bold wave. If they were in all-out Jeep mode and the windows or top were down or they would stick their arm out the window as a way of saying, "Hey, you're cool because you drive a Jeep!" For the next year, I enjoyed those waves and feeling like I was a part of something special, until I realized that although I loved my Jeep, it just didn't have the room I needed for the things I wanted to do. So I got a pick-up.
Fast forward to last week. A friend of mine was telling me that someone had basically told him he was not a Christian. He was in a convenience store and offered to buy a stranger's drink as a gesture of Christian love. When he told the stranger that Jesus loved him, the stranger asked him if he was a Christian. As the conversation went on, this particular individual went on to say that my friend was not a Christian because he was a part of a different Christian denomination than his own and that Christ never intended for there to me so many different churches. Acknowledging that he would pray for his new acquaintence, my friend walked out of the store.
Is this what we've come to? Are we really in a world where bikers and Jeepsters share a common bond and Christians just fight over our doctrinal differences? Maybe we've gotten too complacent. In the first century, the persecuted Christians would carve part of a fish symbol in the dirt and when the drawing was completed by the other individual, they celebrated their kindred spirit. Now we have these same fish symbols on bumper stickers, chrome car emblems, t-shirts, tattoos, earrings, necklaces, name tags, business signs, door knockers, and who knows what all else, and what do we do with it? We accuse one another of not being "saved" because someone goes to a different kind of church. In John 17, Jesus is praying a final prayer for his followers (both the ones of that day and the ones that were yet to be) before he endures the pain of the cross. Here is what he says.
20"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." God help us to be more unified!