Somewhere in Kentucky there is a cobblestone chimney and some bricks that were once part of my great grandparents' home. My husband traveled there recently with my father. He brought back a brick from the foundation and a large stone from the chimney. I have never met my great grandparents, Asa and Lora. They were the parents of my grandfather on my father's side. I have only one memory of my grandfather. I was four when he died. There is something about holding the brick and the stone in my hands that feels like a connection to all of them....as if the remnants of the physical dwelling place are also remnants of another type of foundation...the foundation of family.
It's remarkable how the rest of the old home is gone, but remnants of the foundation and the chimney still stand after all these years. It's a sort of marker for family members to go back to. It helps us find our way there and distinguish those ruins from the ruins of the other homes in the old mining town. The remnants of the family home may not be recognizable to others but we know what it is, our foundation...our beginning.
All of this reminds me of the church. I've been wondering for a while now how the body of Christ can ever truly be one. We have so many differences and often allow those differences to divide us. I've been asking myself what can unify us? Is it even possible to have unity in the body of Christ on this side of heaven? The remnants of my great grandparents' home have me wondering... if all of our differences disintegrated over time into ruins, what would the foundation be that would still be standing?
If we set aside the things we disagree on like whether women should be pastors, when the rapture will take place, speaking in tongues, which political parties most line up with God's view on things, what would be left? What is the foundation of all of our faith? I believe it would be our love for Christ. Isn't the foundation of the home the most important part of it anyway? Without the foundation a home can't stand, can't function. Without Christ there is no church.
So what do we want our marker to be for future generations of the family of God? What will be our chimney, our brick? What is it that will stand the test of time when everything else around is in ruins? If we will cast aside our differences and allow ourselves to be unified by our love for Christ, then the church will have left a firm foundation for future Christ followers to come. We don't have to agree on everything to be one. Love for Christ will make us one when nothing else can.
Often we mistake unity for agreeing with each other. Genuine unity means that I may strongly disagree with you, but I will love you just as fervently because I love Christ...and because of that I won't allow our differences to divide us and become bigger than my love for Him. Our love for Him is what makes us one. Our love for Him is the brick from the foundation that will allow the next generation of Christ followers to feel a connection to what Christ did through the generations before them. Yet, it's more than that...
If we are one because of our love for Christ, that oneness...that unity will also be recognizable to the world. It will stand out like a cobblestone chimney in the midst of ruins. They will know that this is where the family of God dwells, because our unity and our love for Him sets us apart in a world that is constantly at odds with itself. Tired of living in the ruins, the weary world will want to know how it is we can be so different from each other and yet function in such profound love and unity. That is when we can point them to the foundation...Christ.
I can hold that brick from the foundation of my great grandparent's home in my hand and feel love for family I never knew. Shouldn't it be this way in the body of Christ? Shouldn't we be able to take one look at each other and see only the love of our Savior and our love for Him? Suddenly....the differences fade away...just like the cracks and the dirt marks on my brick.