Friday, April 22, 2011

Spiritual Differences: Focusing on the truth that unites us

During our trip to Israel in 2008 we walked the Via Dolarosa. At that time I wrote,

I haven't been looking forward to this post but I want to paint a true picture of this land we are visiting. After leaving the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter, we walked through a tunnel and came out at the Via Dolarosa in the Muslim Quarter. In my head (fortunately for those around me), I was worshipfully singing...

Down the Via Dolarosa called the way of suffering,
Like a Lamb came the Messiah, Christ the King
But He chose to walk that road out of His love for you and me
Down the Via Dolarosa all the way to Calvary.

What a shock to come out of the tunnel, realize where we were, and behold this filthy and crowded row of shops. The situation was worsened by all of the shopkeepers anxious to make a dollar off pilgrims wanting religious icons from the place where Christ had walked.

The Via Dolarosa ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. As with all the churches we have visited up until this point, it was absolutely beautiful architecturally. Spiritually, the place was dead. I would like to tell you the six Christian sects who share the church lay theological differences aside and have come together in a spirit of peace and unity. Sadly, that is far from the case. Disagreements and attitudes have led to centuries of violence, hatred, and dishonest practices within the church walls.”

My personal journey along the Via Dolarosa was such a stark contrast to the Garden Tomb, the other believed site of Jesus’ burial. Whereas the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was known for its division and oppression, the garden inspired awe, reverence, peace, and unity.

Disagreements and divisions among Christians have been gnawing away at me lately. Many are stepping away from studying and reading the Bible; they are focusing more on what other people say about the Bible. I keep running into conversations that include things like…

Are you a 3-, 4-, or 5- point Calvinist? A hyper-Calvinist? Arminianist? Dispensationalist? Amillenialist?

Are you Emergent? Reformed? Evangelical? Progressive? Conservative? Mainline? Liberal?

What’s your take on Rob Bell? Rick Warren? John Piper? Marc Driscoll? Greg Laurie?

Uh, I don’t know.

I know Jesus died on a cross and resurrected back to life. I know He did so because the creation He loved had sinned and could no longer have a relationship with Him. I know that my faith in His grace will save me. It has nothing to do with what I used to do or what I’ve done since accepting His gift of salvation or what I will do in the future. I know Jesus doesn’t want us to be divided or live under oppression. I know He desires for us to know awe, reverence, peace, and unity.

Hours before Jesus was crucified He prayed, “My prayer is not for them [the disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that 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. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I 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” (John 17:20-23 NIV).

To read my first article entitled “Convergence,” please click here.

To read the entire article of my journey along the Via Dolarosa, please click here.

To read the article of my journey to the Garden Tomb, please click here.

1 comment:

  1. Memories. Yes, I remember the same feelings. So grateful to share them with you!