Natalie and I have made new friends recently. Parents of another kid in Ezra’s school, and also the sister/brother in law of one of our colleagues (small world). I entered into relationship with them through an ultimate frisbee game that their church plays every Saturday. As you can imagine, since joining this game, I find that I’m much healthier spiritually and physically.
They invited us to come visit their church sometime, and we finally found a free Sunday to join them. It was an interesting experience. In their church, the Church of Pretoria, there is no single pastor, or paid staff as such. During the course of the week, they study a set series of text from scripture along with a very intense study program. They spend the first hour of their service calling out hymns from their hymn books, and the last hour is dialoging through what they studied. When I went in, I thought there was no way this would work with over 150 adults in one room. But I was wrong, and it was beautiful.
I asked my friend afterwards how it could be that a church with no organized leadership could balance the opinion of so many cultures represented. There were Afrikaaners, English, Xhosa, Zulu, Chinese, etc… At least seven cultures represented in that room and the way they loved and respected each other blew my mind. I’ve been to a white church, a black church, and a Chinese church. I’ve been to big churches and small churches, conservative and charismatic, but I’ve never seen such a mixture in one room grow so tightly before. So I asked him again, “how does that happen”.
“Christ is the center.” He said. “Christ taught us to love and respect one another, and so we do and we find peace and growth in that place.”
I’ll leave you with that. Obviously that challenged a LOT of things in me, so I’ll let that linger with you and let it fester a bit as well. Something to this simplicity of “love the Lord your God, and love others as you love yourself.” I wonder how it got so complicated!