I live in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. It’s a little strip of heaven where the people are generally kind and chapels from every color of the Christian pallet dot the rolling landscape.
We’ve been here nearly a decade and I’ve been impressed at how so many denominations are willing to come together to serve the community. We stock food banks and the local Goodwill. We deliver Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas baskets. We shovel snow and pull pesky weeds.
I wish this were universal in my community and yours. Because even though it seems we’re inching toward progress, recent experience suggests we’ve got miles to go.
Imagine the local leader of my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, approaching young missionaries from your church on the street and telling them they will never make it to heaven. “You are not and cannot be saved. I will not see you in heaven.” This is usually an ambush debate, with no time for prayer, introductions or establishing even an inch of common ground.
I understand there are doctrinal differences across the spectrum of Christianity. But love is greater than these differences, isn’t it?
Imagine the leader of your Christian church refusing to participate in a community service project with another Christian church because they have too many doctrinal disagreements.
Imagine a well-known pastor stopping to visit with some children sitting on a bench on a busy sidewalk on a Saturday afternoon. He hands them a pamphlet for his church and asks if they love Jesus. They do, and proudly tell him so.
“What church do you go to?” he asks. When they tell him they are Mormons, he tosses the pamphlet at them and as he walks away, he decrees, “That’s too bad. Oh well, Jesus loves you anyway.”
These aren’t hypotheticals; they’re my own journal entries. And those kids on the bench? They were mine.