It is so easy to talk about the ideals of Christian faith, but so difficult to embody them. It is easy for us to talk about reconciliation, forgiveness, and acceptance of one another while embracing the diversity of Christ's community, yet so difficult to live it out.
How easy is it to demonstrate love to someone with whom we have a personality clash, or who has done something (or has a belief system) which we find very difficult to accept? It is easy to do in words, but so difficult to live out. And yet this living out is a necessary part of the Gospel lifestyle and the Gospel message. The love of God says to each of us - I love you, unconditionally, no matter what you have done. It is a love not expressed just in words but in deed - in coming to live, and die, for each one of us. It is a love which embraces the extreme liberal, and the extreme fundamentalist, the most creative and the most boring of people, the oldest and the youngest, the aboriginal and the uranium miner.
In words we accept that, but when it comes to living it out to someone we "find difficult", we all fall short. If we affirm that "in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female", then we must learn to accept this diversity of social status, temperament and personality in our midst and accept it as a reflection of the diverse character of God. This requires resources of grace and love which can only come from God.
It is my prayer that this rich diversity will find expression in this place, that we might be a living testimony to the grace of God. Perhaps this is the greatest challenge to be faced: to face one another as equals in Christ, no matter what our background, no matter what our personality. But in Christ, it is possible!
August 7, 1994