Dear church,

Living with other people can be hard. I have my opinions, and you have yours.

Our family listened to a school board meeting the other night. The leadership was trying to decide when to bring kids back to school in light of the ongoing pandemic.

Of the 22 people who spoke during public comment, every single one of them argued the school district should work harder to get kids back to in-person learning. This went directly against the desires of the superintendent, who wanted to wait. He wanted a “near-zero” COVID count before sending kids back into the buildings.

In the end, the public won. The superintendent lost. A lot of parents were happy. I’m sure the superintendent was not. Such is life in the public realm. Politics bring winners and losers.

Some say the most brutal politics are local politics. That seems kind of hard to believe when we watch the national news. But I think local politics often are more difficult because everything is closer to home and people know each other better. The digs can be a little more personal when you know the person you’re digging. And when the politics are closer to home, the passion can reach a higher pitch – because it affects your town, your neighborhood, or the street you live on.

Yes, it can be hard to live with other people. No one would expect perfect harmony. We all have our opinions after all.

And yet, Paul finished his letter to the church in Corinth with this command: “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace.”

No one expects perfect harmony. But the church is different.

Paul desired the church in Corinth – a prideful and divided and theologically messed up church – to come back together into harmony. He wanted restoration. That is, he wanted the unity to return.

And Paul wanted the believers to comfort each other. He wanted them to seek out their brothers and sisters in Christ who were struggling with some problem – some grief or some gripe – and to show compassion.

And Paul wanted them to agree with one another. I’m sure each had his or her own opinion. I’m sure they were quite wedded to their opinions. And I’m sure they thought the opinions of some of the others were ridiculous. And yet Paul encouraged them, “Agree with one another.”

We must try. This is one of the chief callings of our lives as members of the church – to find a way to agreement with one another. It’s not enough to say I have my opinion and you have yours. It’s not enough to defeat each other in arguments – as if we were winning some battle in local politics. It’s not enough for some people, even people with faulty ideas, to be kicked to the curb and forgotten.

We’re to work with one another in hopes of restoration and comfort. This is how we live in the church. This is how we live in peace.

It’s a higher calling. Are we prepared to answer it?

Chris

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