I remember as a child visiting my grandparents’ farm in the tiny town of Jonesboro, Texas. A gas station served as the only neighborhood grocery store, and the post office and feed co-op partnered together in a cinder block building next door. A single schoolhouse down the road welcomed elementary, junior high, and high school kids. Driveways to farmhouses were shared, and everyone used the back roads rather than the sprawling highway that had sliced its way through the middle of the farming community.
Yes, everything was shared in Jonesboro, from farming equipment to the car ride Miss Peggy gave me to a bigger town down the road so I could get my chin stitched up after trying to float on a pillow like a genie. Everyone worked together—everyone, that is, except the two churches resolutely standing on opposite sides of that highway. While they both loved Jesus, they didn’t see eye-to-eye about things like Bible translation, who got to take communion, and whether one should be dunked or sprinkled in baptism. Every Sunday and Wednesday, the gravel parking lots filled with cars and the doors closed behind the faithful churchgoers who, for just a few hours, forgot about the town that shared everything.
As a kid, I didn’t understand why people who said they loved Jesus would dislike other people who said they loved Jesus. As an adult, it became clear that the most powerful weapon of destruction is when we choose not to love. When churches treat other churches as the enemy, we render ourselves powerless to truly stand for the hurting, the oppressed, the ones who cry out for restoration and redemption.
So what happens when churches choose to love each other?
And be sure to listen to this today – Love Where You Live from Rev 1211, a most hope-full creative community in Austin, Texas, that has embraced even the likes of me. Worship leaders from Austin, Texas, got together to write these songs – pieces of paper in a hat paired folks together at a writing retreat that focused on the power of unity and love. Shine on Us is my personal favorite – it’s become a daily prayer. Listen and then support Rev1211’s purpose and passion by purchasing the album (and their incredible Christmas EP) on iTunes.