This is the third installment of my “What Does Your Church Believe?” series. So far I have looked at the importance of open communion to DOC theology (post link) as well as freedom of belief (post link).
Today we will examine the belief in the oneness of the church.
According to the Disciples of Christ, the oneness of the church means that “all Christians are called to one in Christ and seek opportunities for common witness and service.”
One of the foundational tenets of the Disciples of Christ is the notion of ecumenical dialogue. This is vitally important in an ever changing theological and religious landscape. It seems like now that churches operate independent of themselves and in a sense, “compete” against one another. One church is trying to have the best youth program; this church is trying to have the best educational programs; this church is trying to have the best music and preaching. Churches are trying to grow the number of people in their church building on Sunday morning; whoever has the biggest congregation wins right?
Is this the church that Christ envisioned and died for? Did Christ really want differences in hymnals and Bible translations to separate others from doing the will of God together? In the end the fact of the matter remains, we are all serving, worshiping, honoring and loving the same God. No one denomination has a monopoly on God. As Disciples of Christ we are called to try to bridge gaps that have been place by years of separation and animosity. The people of this world who are suffering and need a healing touch of grace don’t have time for us to sit around and complain about “those people” over there.
From the beginning of the movement, the Disciples of Christ have been about the restoration of the church, to restore the church back to one body where Christ is served and God is worshiped in a way that is meaningful. But alas, humanity has messed it up. We want church our way and any other way is wrong. One of my favorite seminary professors said that the church itself has not really grown much, we have just found ways to divide ourselves. This is a sad but true fact.
It is because of this notion of ecumenical dialogue that I started ShareFest Orange which was held in March of this year. It was great to see 70+ people from around the city of Orange coming together to serve God in the public arena together for the benefit of others not a church role sheet.
God can be worshiped and served even when doctrinal beliefs are different.
Let is cling to the notion that God is bigger than our differences.
“We are one in the spirit we are one in the Lord…”