My friend Tanya is a potter. Tanya doesn’t just make pottery. She also talks about making pottery and how we are clay and God is our Potter. He shapes us.
Like all of us, Tanya has faced some difficult times. She’s had troubles she didn’t understand. Her heart has broken. But God, the Great Potter, has never left her side. He continues to shape her.
In the course of writing a book on Christian interaction, I had a conversation with a Catholic nun. During that conversation, I mentioned Tanya’s presentation about God and pottery. A few weeks later, my new friend emailed me for Tanya’s contact information.
To date, Tanya has done four presentations for Catholic retreats. Her message has helped others outside her own Christian tradition find healing through Christ.
Over the centuries, we in our various traditions have not worked well together.
In fact, we have been at each other’s throats. We no longer burn each other at the stake. But we don’t go out of our way to understand each other either. We don’t interact. Or we interact with demeaning assumption, often misguided presumption.
We forget how hard it was to gain religious freedom. The Europeans who escaped persecution essentially set up small enclaves of limited religious thought on the North American continent. It wasn’t until the Bill of Rights that the newborn United States became a haven for those who think differently from the ways of the local populace.
It’s been easy for us to partition ourselves on the basis of denomination. But within every Christian tradition are those who embrace the orthodox doctrines of the Trinity, Christ’s divinity and sacrificial, substitutionary death, the Holy Spirit’s ongoing work in and through us, and Christ’s future return.
We believe the same things about the nature of God and the sinful nature of people who need a Savior. We understand that to follow Him means taking up our cross daily.
We assume that those in different traditions don’t believe as we do. We have met someone in that tradition with a nominal faith. Or less than even a nominal faith. We have encountered those who embrace the social gospel. I.E. Jesus was a good man (no upper case reverence). Therefore, the impersonal God, the man upstairs, only expects goodness.
As the years go by, it becomes easier to define that goodness more and more loosely. A person is ‘good’ if he doesn’t kick the dog and doesn’t cheat on his taxes too much. At least not so much that he gets caught.
Of course, that is an ecumenism we should all flee.
Interaction is a different matter altogether.
Interaction says let’s follow Christ. Let’s chase after the Holy God and work every day to become holy also. Let’s love each other as He asked us to do.
Interaction is Tanya and a group of nuns coordinating their efforts to bring healing to broken hearts.
Because no matter where you worship, you will only find that healing in Christ.
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