It might just me be, but it seems that a foot works better when attached to a leg. It doesn’t mean they are shaped the same or have the same function. Just the same purpose, which is to work together for the good of the person to whom they belong.
I grew up in an era when the name on the church building mattered. It mattered a lot. My best friend in high school went to worship and fellowship in a different building, with a different name than mine. Although in hindsight I see the shallow variations, at that time and in my world, the name Baptist might as well have been Islam. The walls were crazy high and absolutely unnecessary. Through our friendship, and as my friendship with God deepened, I realized we read the same Bible and believed the same God and Jesus died for us both. Because I knew her stories and she knew mine, all this division began to seem silly.
Walls built by denominational differences are a blatant scheme to tear the earthly body of Christ, his church, limb by limb.
Unity in the body has become this beautiful shimmering mirage that my heart aches for. I’ve tasted it at different times over the years in retreats and conferences. Places where its become acceptable to ignore labels. Some of the most beautiful times of fellowship and worship are in the spot where unity bonds his people and the presence of God becomes palpable.
I’ve felt the deep power of sharing stories with friends whose belief in Jesus was the same as mine, even though our church membership had different names. Yet opportunities to gather and link arms with each other were hard to find.
Last year I recognized within the IF:Gathering‘s vision, a tool that could promote unity right here in my town. This movement, this idea, this event…whatever you want to call it….has a heartbeat for unity. It is refreshing. It is encouraging. It feels healing. It is bringing honor to our God whose plan all along was for a healthy vibrant body. A unified message to represent him well.
Too often it feels that His body has been shattered by the enemy’s fire. This reality is what is empowering women across the world to say it is time for change.
Enough of the pretend, rote, check the box routine of Christianity.
Enough of the ridiculously high walls built by the names on signs in front of churches.
Enough of the fragmented body parts scattered ineffectively across our cities.
Enough of the “I’m not good enough” and “I’m not worthy” lies.
Pure and simple we need more of Jesus.
More of his calling for each, more of his calling for us.
More of the joining up of limb and marrow to represent Christ as a healthy and whole body.
More of spurring one another on to good deeds in love. Yes. More love.
More of living like I believe God is real. More of trusting him to make me brave enough to cross the Jordan so that I might claim the life he promised.
More of the capital C sort of Church that throws wide open its doors to accommodate the heart of Jesus. Regardless of how scary and risky that may feel.
In 2014 God allowed the first IF: Gathering to happen on an icy weekend in February. (Here is a link to what it looked like in our home.) Women across the globe came together with shaky knees and trembling hearts, in unity, to listen and look one another in the eye and say…IF God is real….then we want more than anything to live like it.
It was like hearing the scrape of brick upon brick being removed from walls built out of fear and complacency. The cool thing is that it happened in homes, on couches and in coffee shops. Conversations started and continued throughout the year. Meals shared around tables with strangers. Bibles opened and its stories revealed.
Gathering, equipping, unleashing. In unity.
IF:Gathering 2015 is happening on February 6-7. I invite you to come join us. We are holding loosely all expectations except that God come in power. In each and in us, for our good and to His glory.
Wherever you happen to be, clear your calendar and make plans to watch. Join an IF:Local group or watch with just one friend. You can expect to hear from women such as Jennie Allen, Christine Caine, Ann Voskamp, Jen Hatmaker, and Shelley Giglio. We are also expecting to hear from God the loudest. Within our hearts, across our tables, among our churches … may we decide to live as if God is real!