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A Christian perspective on Church

John Breadon's picture

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The diversity of Christianity

For me, the church community is important because of the social, racial and generational mix you'll find there. Today we live increasingly in self-chosen ‘clubs'. We tend to associate, or hang out with, others like ourselves. Most churches are not like this. In fact, they are full of people we would normally do everything to avoid. The smelly, the slightly mad, the boring, the badly dressed, men with beards and Bibles ... you'll find such types, and many others, mixing together and chatting merrily over coffee after the service. At least, this has been my experience. I know from other experiences, experiences I'd rather forget, that the Christian family doesn't always work out this way. If you're unlucky, the church you might just happen to visit may have no idea about community whatsoever. In such places cliques form all too easily, the stranger is not welcomed, the enthusiastic newcomer is met with one of those you're-sitting-in-my-pew sort of looks.

 

The more churches become like the local golf club the less they are following in the way of Jesus, the bloke Christianity is supposed to be based on. It seems to me that Jesus really liked diversity. He got a kick out of observing the interesting things that happen whenever lots of different people are pushed together. His own community contained the lot - tax-collectors (the traffic-wardens of their time), fishermen (the working classes), and women (not really thought to have been on the same level as men). It really was quite a mixed bunch - how they must have fought! But church communities are about more than simply crazy collections of people (though they certainly are that). The command given by Jesus is not to tolerate one another but to love one another (John 13:34-35). The record shows that Christians are no better at loving than anyone else - and they can often be a lot worse. But the ideal remains whether we always reach it or not

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