Communion with the Ornery

nathanielkiddnathanielkidd on 1219684219|%B %d

One of the things I love most about the Church is how I get to be in communion with people I really don't agree with. It is a challenge, yes; perhaps even an impossible one. But joyously received nonetheless.

My favorite icon of the Church from Scripture is the table of the Last Supper. Consider the guys sitting around Jesus. You've got some fishermen, some tax collectors. You've got some Hellenized Jews, and some Jewish radicals anxious to take down the Roman government. You've got some brothers, and some pairs of guys who really just don't get along.

icon_supper400.jpg

Without Jesus at the head of the table, it would be far easier to imagine these guys being arrested for getting into a bar fight with each other than starting a world religion.

And really, at this point, did any of them understand what Jesus was about? They all ran away when he was taken. Peter denied him. Judas betrayed him. It seems there was some fundamental miscommunication about the nature and end of Jesus' mission going on.

Yet here they are, sitting around Jesus, around a table. Together. Ignorant nearly to the point of comedy, and certainly to the point of tragedy.

Yesterday, I stumbled across the website of Lighthouse Trails. Their mission: expose the dangers of contemplative spirituality.

As you might imagine (particularly if you have encountered my own reflections on contemplative Christianity), I find the material on their website to be…challenging. Not only that, I find that the way they have reached their conclusions challenging, and the attitude with which they present them challenging. I seem to disagree, not only with what they think, but the way they think.

Indeed, I find it a challenge to bite my tongue back from using all sorts of nasty superlatives to describe their painstaking efforts. God bless them, they are doing the best that they can.

I work hard to remain in communion with people I disagree with. Looking at the table of the Last Supper, I think this is what Jesus would want. I want to learn from them, and be reformed and refined by submitting myself to their criticism.

There comes a point when said person is not just disagreeable, but utterly intolerable. And I guess this is the true test of our communion. Am I really willing to listen to and learn from those I disagree with? Or do I subconsciously narrow that category to those I disagree with BUT like as people?

I doubt I can do this perfectly. After all, Jesus had to die to begin to restore communion between man and God.

But, by the grace of God and the guidance of the Spirit, I hope to be able to live in a Church that looks a little more like the Last Supper, and a little less like a bar fight.

image credit: http://www.lamp.ac.uk/trs/toms_pix/icons/icon_supper400.jpg

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