Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bearing One Another in Love

"Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

Colossians 3:14-17

Recently the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted to allow gay and lesbians living in committed relationships to be rostered leaders. This is contingent on the "bond conscience" of individual pastors, congregations, and synods. The issues involved are too many to go into in this blog. The Biblical work that needs to be done to be able to come to an informed decisions on this issue is too great for this space. Even then there would be disagreements about the final interpretation. However, I feel compelled to write about it. In college I wrote a paper on the Biblical issues involved in the debate over homosexuality. For me, this issues is not about an idea, a political position, an ideology, or church doctrine. It is about real people living in real life situations. It is about the Church and its future. All of those things aside I wonder if the church can live in this in between space that the assembly of the ELCA called us to. In other words, can people who disagree about an issue that is so heated continue to hold together as church?

As Christians what holds us together is not a stance on an issue. What holds us together is Jesus Christ died and raised for our sins. It is a radical statement of community and togetherness. Because we say that what matters most is not ideology, political stances, or even theological disagreements. What holds us together is our love for God and one another. This day I ache for my brothers and sisters in Christ who feel that their church has been taken from them. Even as I celebrate for my colleagues who are free to be themselves. It is a place that is not so comfortable to live in. Because their is no cause to support only relationships to mend and to uphold.

The greatest commandment in the Bible is a command to love. We often misunderstand this commandment because we think love is about how we feel about others. But Jesus command is not about feeling, but about action. We are to love even if we don't like, even if we don't agree, and most radically even if we are treated badly. It is a high ideal, but one I believe in to my core. Can we as the church live in a place of love instead of sides of an issue? I don't know. I am willing to try. Are you?

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