Scripture: John 17:20-26
Our church has been involved in a movement of anti-racist churches in Lansing, Michigan. As the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning, and following the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, a Black gospel singer in the area reached out to us to help a “Prayerdemic.” The Prayerdemic included an open letter from Christian leaders in the region taking a stance against racialized violence.
The letter was carefully written to garner support across a broad theological spectrum of Christian traditions. Mainline denominational progressives signed the letter as well as evangelical conservatives. White, Black, and brown Christian leaders signed it. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a local document signed by so many diverse Christian leaders.
Despite the overwhelming consensus, I received one email from a local pastor who told me while he agreed with 99 percent of the letter, he couldn’t sign it because he disagreed with one sentence. How much do you have to agree with a fellow follower of Jesus to partner together in mission?
My list of required agreements has gotten very small: Jesus and love. I’m not saying certain disagreements aren’t important, but I can overlook a lot if we agree on Jesus and love. I’ve taken my cue for this shrinking list from Jesus himself.
In our reading today, Jesus prays that we would be unified in our love for one another as Jesus is unified with the Father and the Spirit in love. He prays that the world would know the unique nature of who he is by the unity of love that his followers have for one another. That seems like a big challenge some days. Thankfully, Jesus is praying for us to accomplish it!
Where do you need to overlook a disagreement with another follower of Jesus for the sake of shared mission?
By Tom Arthur, Upper Room Disciplines 2022, p. 183