Stephen Hawthorne, who is a leader in Christian missions, said, “There is a major difference between dogs and cats. Dogs say, ‘You feed me, you care for me, you walk me, you must be God.’ Cats, on the other hand say, ‘You feed me, you care for me, you clean my litter box; I must be God!’” Stephen Hawthorne went on to say, “The problem we have with the Bible is this: the Bible was written by dogs, but it’s read by cats.”
Now I don’t know if this distinction about dogs and cats is true, but it’s a good way to move us to consider whether the focus of our faith is too much on ourselves (our views, needs, and desires) and exclusive of God and others. Paul expresses the unity between believers when he wrote:
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Is he not saying to each believer, it’s not about God and you alone; it’s about God and you along with others?
The vision of our faith is people coming together in the kingdom of God, and discovering worldly divisions of nationality, race, economic status, sexual identity, among all the other ways in which we separate ourselves from one another, fall away: “People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God” (Luke 13:29).
Jesus preaching the “kingdom of God is at hand” is Jesus challenging people to live their daily lives as a sign of the unity among people in the kingdom of God: “I pray for these followers, but I am also praying for all those who will believe in me because of their teaching. Father, I pray that they can be one. As you are in me and I am in you, I pray that they can also be one in us. Then the world will believe that you sent me” (John 17:20–21).
Worship as an expression of unity in the kingdom of God is essential. We are moving into a time in which the Presidential campaign is very divisive: there are strong opinions on both sides about which candidate is best for our nation. The challenge of faith we have as a congregation is: do we mirror the fragmentation of the political world or the unity of the kingdom of God?
Please keep this in mind as you prepare and gather for worship. Let us all be aware of a spirit of political partisanship we may carry with us. May our worship reflect the prayer of Jesus “that they can be one” because “the kingdom of God is at hand.”
the foretaste of the unity of the communion of the saints.”
Stanley Hauerwas, In Good Company: The Church as Polis
Blessings in Christ,