This past weekend, I got to serve as a Disciple Now speaker for Heritage Baptist Church in Texarkana, TX. We had a fantastic weekend, and being a Christian youth speaker is such an amazing opportunity. I loved watching the teens worship and praise God with all of their hearts, and was reminded why our worship as adults needs to be as free as theirs was.
Now, I must tell that I am painfully aware of the dissidence between the Churches of Christ and the Baptist Church. While there are areas of tradition that I treasure, I contend that if you believe in Jesus, then we are in the same wonderful family. I do not share feelings of animosity, and feel strongly that if we all learned how to stop the arguing and start realizing that we have more in common as believers in Jesus than we have to argue you about, God’s family would be a much happier place. I love my brothers and sisters that I met with this weekend, and am honored to have been called the same from their perspective.
I tell you all of that to say that their outpouring of love by the church throwing a birthday party for Hannah simply blew me away. They had a cute cupcake-cake that was formed in the shape of a dog. (Hannah kept asking me what happened to the dog’s nose…and it felt strange to tell her that she had eaten it!) We sang the familiar birthday song, helped Hannah blow out the candles, and had a wonderful celebration. The church members even bought her a baby and stroller set to go along with her collection. She couldn’t have been happier.
I know all churches have differences, and I am not advocating that we agree on everything. However, with both myself and the youth pastor at Heritage Baptist being each raised in a denomination that has historically called the other’s denomination a heresy, I can’t help but feel that the kind of love we experienced is exactly what Jesus was praying for in John 17: 20-21:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
I continue to be amazed each and every day with the love shown in the family of God.