“I believe that the real difference in the American church is not between conservatives and liberals, fundamentalists and charismatics, nor between Republicans and Democrats. The real difference is between the aware and the unaware.”
In 1908, journalist, novelist, and poet William Arthur Dunkerley penned the popular hymn “In Christ There Is No East or West”. The first verse is as follows:
In Christ there is no east or west
in him no south or north
but one great fellowship of love
throughout the whole wide earth
The truth from which Dunkerley wrote is rooted in Galatians 3:28; “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” We know this was Jesus’ desire as we have these words He prayed recorded in John chapter 17; “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one (v. 11b). I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one…(vs. 20-21).”
How are we doing with this one?
Where would Jesus land in today’s labels we Americans use? Conservative, liberal, moderate, progressive, libertarian, populist? When I look around I see a lot of division in the Body of Christ. It seems there’s a lot of energy expended by us believers on labels we ascribe to ourselves that don’t have anything to do with the Gospel. Sometimes I think we’ve fallen in love with our theology and politics and abandoned our first calling of simply being a “Christ Follower”.
Professor, speaker, and New York Times bestselling author Preston Sprinkle recently said, “I think there is a hunger, not for a conservative or progressive Christianity, but a moderate Christianity, where you’re not driven by your allegiance to these polar opposites – you’re driven by your allegiance to Jesus who offended the conservatives and liberals and subverted Roman values.”
If Jesus showed up next Sunday, where would He go to church? Yours or mine? I don’t think either one of us is qualified to answer this question. I do believe that wherever He decided to show, He would draw a crowd. He would speak the language of love, of which He is the author. Jesus would offer hope to the challenged, and He would challenge the hopeful. He wouldn’t use labels, yet those keeping score would label Him, just like before.
Jesus is not a conservative or a liberal. He is the incarnate “I Am.” In Him there is no east or west, no Jew or Gentile, just one great fellowship of love that extends to all of God’s creation. His desire is that we all be one; “one body and one Spirit … one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Eph 4:4-6).”
I like how author and pastor John Mark Comer of Bridgetown Church responds when someone asks him if he is a conservative or a liberal; “I am an apprentice of Jesus of Nazareth who believes his teachings and the writings of The New Testament are inspired by the Holy Spirit and are authoritative over my life.” May we say the same, and may we truly be one.
Play to win this week in the game that really counts!
Extra: To listen to a conversation with Preston Sprinkle and John Mark Comer click here: Theology in the Raw