Busting Out of Our Tiny Circles

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler
2017 5 Sep

An image of colorfully painted slats of wood, some of the them formed into the shape of a heart.

Over the years I have had the privilege of knowing Christians from a wide variety of denominational and nondenominational backgrounds: evangelical, mainline, charismatic, Catholic, and Orthodox. I have sung the ancient hymns and joined in contemporary choruses. I have meditated in silence and prayed out loud. I have held hands, kept silence, and listened with wonder to sermons that touched my soul. I have prayed and been prayed over. I have worked alongside brothers and sisters from various churches to promote God’s truth and love. Rubbing shoulders with Christians from different traditions has been for me an immeasurably enriching experience. It has encouraged, challenged, and taught me important things I might not otherwise have learned. Though I realize that the body of Christ is divided, I also know that Christ is with all of his people, whether or not we approve of them.

That’s why I find it so painful to be around those who draw the tiniest of circles around their church or their version of Christianity, characterizing those who disagree with them, even on small points, as faithless. Yes, there are times when we have to contend for the faith, but we cannot make the mistake of acting as though disagreements regarding minor matters, like which translation of the Bible we read, are as serious as disagreements regarding core elements of our faith like the Incarnation and the Resurrection. Let’s agree to disagree on the minors while we stand together on the majors. And while we are doing that, let’s pray for each other and learn from each other and treat each other with respect, remaining together so Christ can be glorified and the gospel can be preached throughout the world.