One of the core lessons that my professors in college taught me was tolerance. I really like the idea of respecting all people and fostering a perspective of understanding for ideologies and ways of life that differ from your own.
However, my biggest qualm with the idea of tolerance is that it is shallow. Tolerance stiff arms with a smile and sends the message that what you believe works for you but I don’t care about you enough to point out problems or blind spots that you have. To me, that is not love, it is too easy to actually be true love.
If tolerance doesn’t take us far enough into the deep end, what does it take for us as the church to wade through the waters and dive into really loving others?
Sean taught on Romans 15 this past Sunday, and the main verse that stuck out to me was verse 5: “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus...”
When I see the word “harmony,” my default instinct is to think about tolerance. Harmony seems sort of like a hippy commune descriptor as opposite to genuine, sacrificial love. But, as many nerdy pastors like myself do, we look up the Greek of the word and usually changes everything.
The Greek word that harmony comes from is “harmos,” which means joint.
When I think of “joint,” I immediately think of the body and how our joints help intertwine and hold our bodies together. When you break your hand, the hand certainly hurts, but not exclusively. The whole body hurts. When the immune system is fighting off a disease, the whole body suffers and feels the consequences of the infection. When endorphins fire off as we experience an event of happiness, the whole body feels good.
To me, the body doesn’t just tolerate other parts of it, instead, it is all interconnected. Although it has different functions, all of these functions work together. The body is not independent, but interdependent.
I think this mindset is how we should view fostering a culture of welcoming in our body, our church. We are the body of Christ, and we want others to not only experience that body but become a part of it!
Ultimately, we want to fight for this culture of welcoming because verse 6 literally tells us that this type of culture glorifies God. This culture shows off a unique part of His character and it brings a smile to His face.
I pray that our desire to make each other feel welcome in our community would not only make our church a place where we want to go now, but it would make our church a place where visitors and future members of our community will be welcomed, loved, seen and known for years to come.
Let’s dive into the uncomfortable. Let’s be incredibly vulnerable. Let’s serve others even when inconvenient. Let’s be the church that blesses the heart of our God.
One speaker from the International Mission Board captured this culture perfectly with this quote: “churches will thrive because of relation, not sensation.”
Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.