I love Gary Larson’s The Far Side. Every day that I could get my hands on a paper I would fish through it to the comics section to see what geeky thing he came up with. I remember my dad getting the newspaper on the weekends and us digging through it for the comics, sports page, and Lewis Grizzard articles. The Far Side, along with Peanuts, was one of my favorites. I think it has to do with his fondness for scientific, nerdy things. That and his punny sense of humor. I even scanned some of my favorite panels at high resolution back when I was a graphic designer, printed and mounted them as poster sized wall hangings.
My kids know this about me and last year they got me a Far Side desk calendar. The comic for Sunday the 21st has a bunch of bugs milling around and a party. One of them says to another, “Think about it, Ed…The class Insecta contains 26 orders, almost 1,000 families, and over 750,000 describe species—but I can’t shake the feeling we’re all just a bunch of bugs.” If you remember the classification system from basic biology that is hilarious. The bug is saying you can define bugs in all these ways to talk about what kinds they are and what they look like. At the end of the day, they are all still bugs. As a nerd, I find this hilarious. It might also be funny otherwise.
Unfortunately, this kind of reminds of Christianity. Jesus said, “I’m not praying only for them but also for those who believe in me because of their word. I pray they will be one, Father, just as you are in me, and I am in you. I pray that they also will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me. I’ve given them the glory that you gave me so that they can be one just as we are one. I’m in them and you are in me so that they will be made perfectly one.” Jesus uses the word one three times in the passage above. The word implies the idea of intimate connectedness, a sort of mystical union. This union, oneness, is something disciples have not only with God, but it is intended to be a union with each other as well. It is a bond uniting us with God and one another.
At least, that’s the idea Jesus had.
Along the way—and not far removed from Jesus saying these words—we left unity for division. In Acts 5, we have attempted fraud. In Acts 6, some widows were being taken care (Jewish Christians) and others were being ignored (Gentile Christians). In Acts 10, Peter (and others I imagine) is at odds with God over Gentiles and whether they should be part of the church. In Acts 13, we have the Jerusalem council over the same issue. Paul’s letters to churches are riddled with it. The history of the church shows one group after another at odds with each other from the time of the earliest church until now. Oneness, union with God and other disciples, basically never happened. It was the prayer of Jesus that never seems to have gotten answered.
Looking at the world we live in and the state of the church, it seems the time has come to answer this prayer. I cannot see the church moving forward with the mission of making disciples when the state of the church mirrors the state of the world. We, the church, must put aside the inter and intra denominational bickering and childish nonsense and embrace a grater cause than our petty squabbling. It is time to put aside doctrinal and dogmatic expectations and limitations in favor of seeing people find grace, joy, and peace as disciples of Jesus. I know, it sounds a little naïve to me too but only because I know my own desire to comfortable and safe in my rightness is equal to those around me. We must let go of self in favor of service, fear in favor of love, rightness in favor of goodness. Otherwise, Jesus pray will continue to go unanswered and we, the church, will continue to perpetuate this crime of division along with the rest of the world.
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