Makeesha Fisher leads and coordinates stuff, designs things and thinks a lot. She also finds it strangely alluring to construct a bio primarily out of words and sentence structures her AP English Teacher would have scolded her for back in high school. She blogs at makeesha.com and will be speaking at Christianity 21 in October.
There is a point where our musings enter the world of the real. In Christianity, this point is often firmly affixed at the church front door – whether that door be to an ancient cathedral, someone’s home, a pub, a coffee shop or more metaphorical.
I enjoy musing, but I also lead a faith community, coordinate an Emergent cohort and am in a family that believes very differently from me about matters of politics and religion and these are the places where my musings must be held up with some sinew and bone and given life.
Pluralism – What’s a Christian to Do?
For me, pluralism is a given. It just IS. Multiple religions/belief systems exist and they’re not going anywhere. The question is, what do Christians do about it? I heard a message by Samir Selmanovic a year or so ago and his answer to that question is the one I hold to. First and foremost, Christians should be about love. And yet, more often than not, when you ask non Christians if they feel loved by Christians, their answer will be a resounding “no”. Selmanovic argued, that is because Christians (by and large) do not genuinely listen and they will not genuinely receive from the other. We have to be willing to come with an open posture to the other, with a willingness learn something. If we can’t do that, we might as well not even bother trying to “show them love”, because they won’t feel it.
Ecumenism – How We Treat Each Other Matters
For the past few years I have been co-leading a community in Fort Collins, CO called Revolution and it is the most tangible, real, honest example of ecumenism I have. Around the table we often have an Episcopal Priest, a Lutheran Minister, a therapist who graduated from a conservative evangelical seminary and is now a pseudo evangelical universalist and more.
In all we do with Revolution, we seek to maintain the integrity of each person’s experience and expression, celebrating it and giving it voice and value. In other words, we do not just take those things we have in common, mix them together and make a big bubbly happy pot of tolerance soup. That’s a muddy mess that typically doesn’t get us past the moment when we all feel really good about ourselves. Each person brings to the table the full expression of what it means to them to be Christian. This requires several things of us as a community.
- We must listen with the intent to HEAR THE SPIRIT OF GOD.
- We must SHUT THE HELL UP – specifically, we must stop correcting one another.
- We must be willing to receive – a tangible way we do this is to rotate the lunch meal.
- There must be leadership but the leader’s point of view cannot dominate – many different people lead the group through the worship expression, this is helpful in making sure there isn’t a dominant point of view all the time.
- We must rely on the ONE – not the one theology, the one orthodoxy, the one philosophy, the one religion, the one truth or the one leader. THE ONE.
- We must learn how to disagree. The way many Christians behave often reminds me of my children when they’re fighting – my children are 7 and 3. We need to mature in this area.
These are ways our community functions as a mixed bag of Christian expression and these are also ways we can rightly function in our pluralist world as true bearers of Christ’s love. If we can’t even love ecumenically within our own religion, we’re screwed when it comes to loving people outside our religion, and if those outside our religion do not experience genuine love from us, we have failed in the Great Commission.