It was the dawn of a new year and she was there. Right beside me. I didn’t know her; I didn’t know her name and I didn’t know anything about her except her lovely brown Bible and the fact that right here, right now, she was standing next to me and she was smiling. I smiled too and we did the natural thing when everyone roared ‘happy new year’- we gave ourselves a big warm hug. It was the kind that makes you feel good from your hair to your toe nails.
|We are One Body in Him|
This very moment, although she was a stranger, she was also my sister and that fact wiped out every other fact. She is my sister. Period. Why? Because we share the same Brother, the First Born of our family. His name is Jesus, The Christ, and if you believe in Him, you and I are siblings, directly related by the Blood that truly matters.
So the first person I hugged this year was a stranger and the only thing we knew we had in common was our faith. We met at a three day conference in Adebayo, a tiny village near Ibadan, Nigeria. It was my first time there and I had gone on the invitation of a friend who eventually didn’t attend the programme due to an unexpected health issue. So there I was in a sea of people, lost, friendless and lonely- yet I was among family. It was a wonderful conference. The word, worship and prayers were amazing and life transforming and there was no room for pity party.
I initially felt that although it was an interdenominational programme, the organisers were conservative (SU folks) so I expected to be judged. Why was I automatically defensive? Heaven knows. But I also know that a partial reason is because we are usually stuck up in our ways with our pretty little (or mega) churches and our doctrines. Anyone who even barely strays off what we believe is heretic. But dear friend, this divided church isn’t what Christ paid for and it sure isn’t the one He hopes to meet when He returns.
Regular readers may have observed how I tend to harp on unity among local churches. Jesus did too and He spent a lot of His final words on praying that they may be one. Do we need that prayer or what! Thankfully, during the conference, when everything was focused on Christ rather than doctrine, there was almost nothing to argue about. Nothing. Granted, I wore skirts all through, covered my hair during service (a kind sister gave me a scarf), sang more hymns in three days than I had sang January to December but those are very secondary issues that didn’t matter enough to deter me from enjoying a great family time of learning about faith in Jesus.
I encourage us all today to look beyond the things that divide us and look at the Cross of Christ instead. At this Cross, we are the same- no Greek or Jew, man or woman, African or Asian, Baptist or Pentecostal. God sees all His children through Christ and except one of us is none of His, how will you and I not be family?
Go ahead, hug a stranger. You know the kind I talk about.
PS: Happy New Year everyone. Sorry to come on here so late. It is extremely crazy at work January- April. By His grace, we will keep things up.