What’s the Difference?
Recently Dan Kimball blogged about some conversations surrounding the varying views concerning the emerging church. I was recently asked, “What’s the difference between emerging and emergent?” I find it interesting that we are concerned with the differences within the church conversation. What about being concerned with the difference between the church and the world? Statistics show that when measuring certain behaviors, there is really not much of a difference between those who proclaim to be followers of Jesus and those who are not. Why is there so little difference? What kind of difference may we expect to find between followers of Christ and others who are not following Christ?
Leonard Sweet comments on Jesus prayer in John 17:11, 13-15 that we are called to be in the world, not of it, but not out of it either. Leonard Sweet, futurist, author, university professor and husband and father of three, is one of the first voices in the dialog concerning post-modernism and the cultural shift that we see contributing to the emerging church. Yet, Leonard Sweet is different. What’s the difference? Well, for one thing, Leonard Sweet is off the charts. When you view the charts Dan Kimball references you won’t find Leonard Sweet listed. Len Sweet is different.
I believe we are called to be different. We find quite a bit of variety within the church – different communities of faith living out their calling to follow Jesus within their unique contexts, but are our only differences within or are we different from the world? Paul asks in Philippians 2, Does Christ speak to you? Does love call to you? Do you have a part in the Holy Spirit? Do you have any love and care for others? Then make me very, very happy. Live in happiness with one another. Have the same love for each other. Think the same way. Agree together about things. All have one purpose in mind. Do not try to prove you are better than others. Do not be proud of yourselves, but be humble. Think of other people as being better than yourselves. Each one of you should not think only about himself, but about other people also. When Paul says, think the same way, does this mean we no longer have varying views within the larger body of Christ? I don’t think so, but I do think we need to agree to be thinking about the same Way (Jesus is the Way) and as followers of Christ, our differences should be most pronounced in regard to our different kind of love, our different kind of hope, our different kind of life in relation to the world. A difference that is in the world, not of the world, not out of it, but a difference that is for the world – so they will see Christ in us.
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