We had a lot to say about common faith hang-ups throughout the past season in our Sunday meetings. Creation, the Bible, the church, Jesus, sex, and hell are big topics and the questions were meaty and engaging. The conversations were stimulating, and I suspect we have a lot more to say. Let’s keep talking! Our “doing theology” times are particularly good for that, as we are literally doing theology every day as we live and relate.
Our goal for Hard to Believe was not just to philosophically deconstruct problems…it was to make space for the truth that God is revealing to us now and to keep building an authentic community in Christ. Did we do it? One thing that seems obviously revealed is our commitment to dialogue (our safety in Christ to do that) and our commitment to using the faith that we have, not the faith that we don’t have. We love those who don’t think they have any faith at all, and we want to include them too. Other bits of revelation that came through is that we are part of creation, that knowing and living the Bible is a group project, that the Church is alive, that Jesus calls us to know God through him, that sex is meaningful, and that God might not be as punishing as we may have been taught.
In our anxious political climate, it’s timely to remember the differences between ourselves in Christ and the state. Instead of being called to legislate belief or morality we are citizens of a kingdom that is not of this world. Our identity in Christ is beyond the law and calls us to love above all else. We are banking on the death and resurrection of Jesus and the agreements we make together; all else might be interesting but probably not worth arguing about. Our togetherness in Christ is the answer to his prayer before he went to the cross: 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—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17)
We have another opportunity to reflect that glory this Sunday together when remember the initial coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It was the moment when the glory of God was first poured out so lavishly and intimately upon believers in an indwelling kind of way. The presence of God changed them so much that it was Hard to Believe. People thought they were drunk. But, in fact, they were just filled with the comfort, peace, and joy of the Holy Spirit. It was bringing people together with all kinds of differences and empowering them to understand one another. We are empowered by that same Spirit to love and understand one another, too.