I did manage to take a break from grading exams last week to join Christians in Traverse City for the National Day of Prayer. I had a wonderful time with the good people there, and visiting Traverse City in May reminded me just how beautiful Michigan is in the summer. We easily have the best beaches and lakes and most scenic countryside in the world.
If only our summers would last longer. Would the rest of you mind if we prayed for global warming? Would it be a sin to buy a fleet of SUV’s and let them idle? Is it wrong to purchase picnic products, such as ketchup and mustard, in aerosal?
After the prayer breakfast I met with twenty or so pastors and church leaders from the community, and our time encouraged me about what the church can be. Our group included Baptists, Reformed, Methodists, and Pentecostals, and many of them expressed how encouraging it was for them to unite and pray together as leaders of the church of God. They noted that it was a sacrifice for them to carve the time out of their schedules, but they tearfully said that it meant the world for them to pray with their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Our time made me wonder whether any of you enjoy fellowship with leaders of other denominations in your area. I know that we feel more affinity for those who share our denomination or doctrinal distinctives, and we are willing to travel great distances to meet our likeminded friends. This is good, but I wonder how much space we also create for a more diverse regional fellowship.
I’m sure that there are lots of reasons why this may not happen, and I’m not trying to lay a guilt trip on pastors, saying here is one more thing you should add to your schedule, but I am curious to know what is going on in your location. The leaders in Traverse City said that they had been working for several years to get the turnout they had last week, so it doesn’t seem to be an easy process. Any thoughts or experiences that you would like to share with us?
One final note: we conservatives are known for taking a stand for truth, but historically we have been less impressed with Jesus’ prayer that his church be united in love (John 17:21-23). For example, this is from a letter wich Lewis Sperry Chafer wrote to a Dallas Seminary grad who had changed his views on the timing of the rapture: “You will find yourself very shortly being avoided by all your classmates, by all the faculty and by all the alumni of the institution which has meant so much to you” (quoted in Three Views on the Rapture [Zondervan], p. 33). I’m glad that this quote now seems quaint, aren’t you?