What We Have in Common
Tom, Dick and Harry discuss around some donuts at a local church, at a diner, barber shop, what have you, and they have so much in common. In fact, the content of their discussion is often a poorly-veiled rally around things they are against. The onlookers they may have surrounded themselves with in whatever venue you choose are generally in agreement, there is no threat there. And if they are not in agreement, they are in the idiotic minority who would never bend in any case, no matter how long you push the point into their eardrums. And these fellas don't like to push, of course, no one wants to be pushy, but if confronted, they have a high horse standing just outside the saloon.
If you were to put these three men's pictures on a wall and diagram all the ties that bind them together, you could create a messy weave around them, a heavy bird's nest that is hard to penetrate. And when you're tied in so tightly on so many things, it's hard to move in one way or another. So what do these men have in common? What if it were just that they were sinners that desperately needed God's grace, who with childlike faith clung to Christ as their Lord and Savior? They might encounter one another and the first question might be, "Tom, how's your heart? What have you really enjoyed recently?" Because this bond, the one thing that Christians all over the world have in common, is the one bond that only presupposes things that are true: things haven't been easy for you because of sin, and Jesus loves you. Food tastes better upon this true bond, music sounds better, and we certainly look a ton more lovely. There are people around you who need the gospel - and to know how the gospel has changed you. They are hurting, just like you - they cry, and they've been embarrassed. Our false tethers only seek to put ourselves above them, not with them.
If we focused on that bond (and it has to be a real bond, nothing new-agey or simply spiritual, but the bond that is as old and gritty as the dirt Jesus died above), how much easier would it be to talk to anyone about Jesus? We can find common ground with the believers halfway around the world and the lost soul who lives next door. But when we create these impenetrable webs around us that only allow like-minded individuals in, we've filtered the very light we are to shine to point its beams only on those who may be wired the same way.
"For I decided to know nothing more among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" 1 Cor. 2:2
I am not advocating for a watered-down gospel or a compromise on the ethical teaching in the Word of God. Some will reject Christ upon hearing his demands on your life or on the claims to his absolute, unmatched power... "we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called... Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" 1 Cor. 1:23-24. And hold convictions, hold them with fervor and love, allowing it not ever to trump the primary bond that holds Christians together - true faith in Christ.
Now the biggest worry I have is not with those who hold certain convictions, it's with those whose only convictions are those things that create the tangled web of common bonds. I am afraid that in many cases we discuss common bonds - how we educate, what Christian programs we watch or listen to, what political party we defend, all the way down to laundry detergents and milk. We neglect the real thing that should be holding us together: "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" Rom. 5:8. Let's bring it to the fore and knock down some of these webs that have become so cluttered, and the light will shine all the clearer.