Saturday, September 7
Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to oﬀer spiritual sacriﬁces acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:1-5, 9-10)
Like Paul in our other readings this week, Peter is able to see the church as it is (struggling with malice, insincerity, envy, and slander) and at the same time to name our calling to be “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people...” We are both ﬂawed and capable of bearing the light of Christ for the world. Our actions do not have to be perfect for people to experience the presence of God at work in and through our community.
There is a tension between who we are and who we are called to be — ﬂawed, yet forgiven and striving. Christian faith is ﬁlled with similar tensions. We live in the tension between faith and works, between demanding justice and oﬀering forgiveness, between worship of God and service to others. In a similar way, the phrase “unity without uniformity” holds the tension between being part of a community and groupthink (making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility). We are not asked to sacriﬁce our intellect or decision-making ability to belong to FUMCOR.
Being part of a community is wonderful, but sometimes the majority can be wrong. In those situations, God sends prophets. So, healthy congregations listen and prayerfully consider the perspectives of all those who stand outside the norm. Likewise, being able to stand ﬁrm in a personal belief is important, but sometimes individuals can be wrong. In those situations, God sends teachers. So, faithful congregations never stop striving to learn, using their God-given intellect to explore new ideas.
Healthy congregations which are grounded in God’s love acknowledge their diﬀerences, refusing to pressure everyone to agree. Rather, those who are in the majority of an opinion remember that prophets are often out of mainstream thought...and so they keep listening, praying, and seeking to recognize what God is revealing in the moment. Those who hold a minority opinion take seriously that their brothers and sisters in Christ might be more mature in faith...and so they keep listening, praying, and seeking to understand where God is leading in the moment.
But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16)
• When have you experienced or seen “groupthink?”
• When have you seen someone share an unpopular opinion that turned out to be correct?
• Were you ever quite certain about something only to realize you were wrong? What helped you to see the truth?
• How do you want people to treat you when they disagree with you?