Have you noticed all the stuff that can divide us? You and I may come from different racial/ethnic backgrounds or have divergent political views. Perhaps I have greater (or lesser) financial resources than you. Or maybe you have more education than me. The list goes on…
Diversity can create walls between me and you…between me and my neighbors. Perhaps between you and your neighbors, too.
Sadly, we see this even within the Body of Christ, in spite of the fact that we are to be known by our love for one another. Jesus said, “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (John 13:34-35, The Message).
So what unites us? . . . . the Good News of Jesus Christ! Since Puget Sound Christian Clinic began in 2003, our mission has been to show Christ to the community around us by loving one another as we serve those who do not have access to health care. The PSCC mobile clinic is a tool that God is using to build unity within the Body of Christ. It is so exciting!
Take Snohomish, for example. In December 2009, I met with several pastors of churches in that community. They respected each other and enjoyed being together. In fact, as I’ve come to know them, I would describe them as friends who love Christ, love one another and enjoy working together to meet needs within their community. Their desire to serve meshed with our vision for the mobile clinic. They worked tirelessly to bring the mobile clinic to that community, though it has not been easy.
Sometimes we needed help understanding each other’s language, background and history. The Snohomish steering committee talked through the PSCC statement of faith, the PSCC volunteer application, and how to care for patients spiritually. Our varying viewpoints were presented with compassion and kindness and we listened to one another with respect. Even that has sometimes been a challenge, at least for me. It is only as I ask God to help me hear the real concerns that I understand. Then I hear the desire expressed by each person to follow Christ. Even in the midst of interacting, it’s clear that we each love volunteers who will serve and patients who will be served. Thus far, we have found favorable solutions.
Today we are only a few weeks away from beginning weekly mobile clinic operations in Snohomish. Fifty volunteers from several Snohomish churches look forward to serving together. As we begin, Christian believers from diverse backgrounds, but with common purpose and vision, will love and serve patients from varying backgrounds. Through service in the love of Christ, we will all grow, together.
Recently, a volunteer shared his story. He decided to serve at the clinic because he wanted to have an impact in peoples’ lives. He saw PSCC making a difference, meeting health needs in the community. He said, “I never expected the life that would be changed most would be my own.”
At PSCC, God is bringing volunteers and patients together and teaching us to love one another. As we embrace people who are different, our lives will be enriched in ways we do not yet fully understand. God will transform lives. He will help us rip down walls that divide. The apostle Paul calls this the work of the Gospel, the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-19).
How have you experienced dividing walls? Do you have thoughts on how we can participate with God in loving one another, and removing the barriers?