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A thought on religious diversity
By Pastor Lawrence Ehrhardt, MDiv

 For the past few weeks, those of us who use the Common Lectionary have had opportunity to reflect on some of Paul's writings about how we are one in Christ. What have impressed me are Paul's repeated observations/teachings that all the things that separate us are of no importance when we consider our adoption as children of God.

 In Holy Baptism we become children of God. Our basic identity then is that as one of God's children. As one of God's children we are called upon to live our life in a manner consistent with that reality.

 Now consider how we frequently see that expressed in our world, in the faith expressions of which we are part. Do we see God's children working together as a family toward a common goal? No, we don't. We see various factions competing with each other and fighting about who is right and who is wrong, each claiming to be "the" valid understanding of that which God intends. Is it any wonder that someone looking at us would find ample cause to step away? What right-minded person would want to associate with such a group of bickering fools! (And yes, I know that sometimes we do get together to work on some common goal.)

 The point here is that all too often it is our differences that are the norm that divide us, that define us, rather than the commonality of our identity as children of God. This must change if we are ever to be true to that which each of us claim, that is to be faithful followers of the One who loves us and calls us His own.

 That does not necessarily mean that we must set aside those things that are important to us. It does mean that we fully, and with honesty and integrity, recognize that no one person or group of persons can represent in themselves the totality of God. It does mean that the wonderful uniqueness of God's gifts to each of His children must be lifted up and celebrated as a vital part to the totality that is the Body of Christ. When we start rejoicing in our interconnectedness, when we start living as individuals and as faith communities dedicated to our identity as children of God, then, and only then, do we truly become that which we are created to be - light bringers to a world in darkness.

 May the One in whose Name we exist guide us ever closer to the fulfilment of that promised to us. And may we learn to listen to His voice above all others.

 (The opinions contained above do not necessarily reflect the position of the church, they are intended solely as the basis of further thought and reflection.)

  June 30, 2004  
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