Thursday, June 18, 2009

This week's lesson: community

Every now and then, somebody will ask to be baptized -- "but I don't want to join your church," they'll tell me.

"Is there another church you'd rather join?"

"No, I don't want to join any church. You see, I love Jesus -- but I can't stand Christians!"

"Hmmm . . ." I'll say. "We may have a problem here."

And no, I'm not saying that to be mean; neither am I a big fan of Cyprian of Carthage -- the bishop who said that "he cannot have God as a father who does not have the church as a mother."

But over the years, I've learned that following Jesus means hanging out with other people who are following Jesus -- and not just the people I like. No, there's a whole raft of believers out there who don't listen to my kind of music, read my kind of books, or support my favorite causes . . .

But guess what?

They're part of Christ's body anyway.

"You see," I'll tell my wannabe solipsist, "getting baptized is kind of like getting married to someone who has kids: if you want to spend the rest of your life with that person, then you're stuck with the kids as well. And if you say to that person, 'I love you -- but can we ditch the kids?' . . . well, it ain't gonna work.

"Likewise, if you love Jesus . . .

"Then you'd better get used to the fact that He loves a lot of other people too."

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