Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Just a Puzzle Piece

Two weeks ago a group of Providence students went to Jamaica for a short mission trip. You can find the article I wrote with more detials on it at the, which is our school newspaper.

There is a quote in the article from one of the students who went on the trip, named Jeff. He said this:
For me, as I would plan on going into the mission field one day, it opened my eyes to see the unity in diversity of the global body of the church. There was a lot of teaching that I didn’t agree with, but seeing the missionary, Billie McKillop (who is PCA), that he had his differences yet his heart was still set on working with the Jamaican church. This is so vital–to not major the minors especially when trying to support churches down there. It was amazing to see that God’s kingdom is bigger than we think. It’s not exclusive to reformed Christians or to conservative Christians. As imperfect as the diversity is, there still is a unity that transcends all the differences that unites us under Christ. It reminds me of Paul as a missionary writing to different churches of different cultures and dealing with different doctrines but he still calls them ‘saints of God’.When I interviewed him, he was so passionate about this statement. This was something he learned so much about on the trip.

Being a reformed Christian going to a reformed school and a  reformed church, I have a tendency to have little patience with people who have theological differences with me. When I go to my parent's nondenominational church at home, I will be very critical of the sermon. Even when unreformed Christians talk to me about God, I am constantly on the defense.

It's not that having a critical mind is wrong. I know that I need to test what people say against what I know in scripture to be true. At the same, I shouldn't let that criticism go so far that I don't take anything anyone says seriously, unless they are reformed, because there is so much I can learn from my other brothers and sisters in Christ. They know things that I don't know, and I may know things that they don't know, and in this way we can build each other up.

It's so easy to forget the reality of what the church is. The church being one body is not just a metaphor, it is reality. The Spirit of God dwells in every believer and binds us together, so we are one with each other, and one with God. Maybe if I understood this, I wouldn't be so critical of what other people say. Maybe I wouldn't be so damn prideful, thinking that I can learn nothing from less educated people (that are probably much more wise and educated than I think). That is very narrow minded of me, because the church,as Jeff said, really is bigger than I think it is.

This is the struggle of learning. I know so much more than I did at the beginning of my first semester of college. So much that I cannot even remember it all. I am learning, but I forget sometimes that I am not an expert. I forget that other people have studied and read, and I can't get so caught up in my beliefs and my new knowledge that I dismiss what other people have to say. Ignoring other perspectives makes me stupid, and really not as much of a critical thinker as I percieve myself to be. Yet, I cannot just accept what they say either. I struggle to know when to speak, and when to be silent on issues of differing beliefs.

The point is, I can learn from other people much more often than I think. The other point is, the church is vast and diverse, yet it is ONE in Christ! Such an amazing reality, and this reality requires me to listen with discernment but with love.

I am a puzzle piece in this beautiful picture God has created. Just a silly, incoherant piece, but together we make something beautiful.

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