What does Ecumenism really mean?
Regular columnist John Myhill considers what it really means to be Ecumenical in a world which needs to know the love of Christ.
Does the Christian need only the Bible? John 17 recognises that we are “in the world but not of it”. If we are to reach out to those who do not know Christ, we must understand the world we are in. Leviticus 19:18 says “Love your neighbour as yourself”, but Jesus gave that phrase its full meaning when he said “Love your Enemies” Matthew 5:44.
Two new books that help me to do this are:
Living on the Edge by Nicky Samuel: the senior Pastor of Grace Christian Fellowship in Norwich who, with her husband, has for some years been running a children’s home, school and Bible college in Andhra Pradesh, India.
Achievements which would cost millions of pounds in this country have been accomplished with only thousands in a land that is as hungry for Christ as it is for education and food. This book will give you the courage to let God direct your life, and take you to achievements you would never have thought possible. Live adventurously.
The Establishment and how it gets away with it by Owen Jones – This book enables you to see how the majority in this country have lost out to the wealthy and powerful over the last 35 years. Here is all the detail about the financial control of our political system, regardless of which party is in power, through pressure groups, the media and the scrounging tax dodgers.
“The poor are always with us”, Matthew 26:11, but they are becoming the majority, and few people other than Christians are caring for them. No wonder the churches have ceased to be part of the Establishment. Discover the truth behind the news, “for the children of this world are wiser than the children of Light”, Luke 16:8.
How then can we as Christians work together, on the edge, despite the powers of the Establishment? Remember, you are a “chosen people, a royal priesthood”, (1 Peter 2:9), not “hirelings” (John 10:13) who will run away at the first sign of danger.
Can you bring joy to the community with whom you worship? Are you able to respond to the moving of the Light within you? Are you part of “the Body of Christ” 1 Corinthians 12:27? Or are you limited to the building you attend on Sundays where “their hearts are far away from me. But they worship me in vain, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men”, Matthew 15: 7-9?
If you answer YES to the first three questions, you are worshipping where God has placed you, a blessing on your community, with a mission to the wider world, regardless of denomination.
In your church you may have many roles:- you may be an elder, treasurer, warden, cook; you may be part of a group of theologians, scientists, peace protestors, ecologists; you may have experience in helping the homeless, those suffering mental distress or physical handicap, the elderly, the imprisoned, the unemployed.
Whatever your role within your worshipping community, there are other Christians in other worshipping communities, close by, who share your expertise, your experience, your particular struggles. Find them. Work with them. Become a full member of the Body of Christ. That is true Ecumenism.
Holding Hands image is courtesy of Julia Freeman-Woolpert on www.freeimages.com