Here is a list of my top five favourite blogs I’ve written this year for your viewing pleasure:
Here is a list of my top five favourite blogs I’ve written this year for your viewing pleasure:
“And men go abroad to admire the heights of mountains, the mighty waves of the sea, the broad tides of rivers, the compass of the ocean, and the circuits of the stars, yet pass over the mystery of themselves without a thought.”
As 2019 wraps up, as the Earth begins to make its final trip around the Sun, as people all over the world scurry to a fro in a capitalistic drive to purchase an overabundance of gifts for people who’s hearts will never be truly satisfied… I sit back and reflect on the year gone by. What a year it has been. If I were to describe it in one word, that word would be “wearisome.” We’re only days away from Christmas, and as I write this, I can say that I am tired and broken. I’ve moved from the city to the coast, changed jobs by buying a cafe, struggled to settle into a church, I’ve changed positions on some big theological ideas, and on top of all that my wife and I separated. It’s been a tough year of change and heartache, and I have as many questions as I have things to be thankful for.
One of the biggest things I’ve been thankful for is my family and friends (cliche I know, but it’s true). Despite what I’ve been going through, everyone has been there for me from the entire spiritual spectrum. From non-believers to conservative Christians, they’ve all loved me, prayed for me and have been there for me as much as possible without any judgement. They’ve born my burdens, watched me cry and have listened. I couldn’t have had better people in my life. It’s times like these that genuinely prove who your friends are and they’ve gone above and beyond. They’ve genuinely fulfilled the golden rule.
However, I’m still left with a lot of questions and mixed feelings.
Theologically, I know the answers to all of these.
It doesn’t make it any easier, though. It leaves me doubting my God and my faith. It makes me wonder what is next for 2020 and where I’m supposed to go from here. I want to rebel and fly off the handle, wake up in a strangers bed with a hangover and indulge in the typical hedonistic life the world has on offer. As I write this though, I’m reminded to not escape the pain and trials through meaningless distractions (entertainment, booze and parties… trust me it’s very tempting), instead, to embrace the pain and to grow in wisdom. The wisest of us suffer and learn, they don’t escape. I want to walk through the flame, look back and be assured that God had more profound things in store for me. I want to experience the Spirit and be infused with His great love for others. I want to sing the Gospel and witness the might of His Kingdom.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. – Romans 8:18
Already one of my favourite theologians, James K. A. Smith, the author of “Desiring the Kingdom” and “How (Not) to Be Secular” delivers another timely book for the wayward soul. Smith brilliantly lays out and takes apart modern existentialism (the Western meta-narrative) while being sympathetic to the restlessness of the human heart. Restlessness Smith argues is a part of the human experience, it’s a part of our nature. However, the never-ending journey is not our home. Instead, God is. This book is a must-read for those, like me, who find themselves at the crossroads of life without a map or a guide. This book is for the exiles and sojourners who can’t settle and especially for the Christian who has become disillusioned with Western Existential Christianity.
2. Old Testament Theology For Christians by John H. Walton
You may not know it, but there is a fight happening right now on the fields of theology to uphold the Old Testament. John H. Walton (one of my favourite Old Testament scholars) enters the fray with this timely book. Author of the Lost Word series, a commentary on Genesis and many other great books on the Old Testament, this book in particular stresses the importance of not divorcing the Old Testament from the New Testament, instead, seeing the continuity and relevance of the Old Testament for Christians. Furthermore, Walton challenges our readings of the Old Testament as he invites us to leave aside our modern notions of how Scripture should be read and instead, interpret it on its own terms. A must-read for any serious student of the Old Testament.
3. The Unseen Realm by Micheal S. Heiser
In his book “The Unseen Realm” Heiser focus’ on ancient near eastern context to help uncover what the Bible has to say about the spiritual realm, angels, demons and even God Himself. Meiser argues that ancient Israel lived in a polytheistic world and that particular worldview would have informed the way they understood these things. Heiser does so with a lot of research, precision and grace as he tackles this difficult topic. Another must-read for those wanting more insight into what the Bible has to say about the spiritual realm and its inhabitants.
4. In The Shelter by Padraig O Tuama
Padraig O Tuama is a poet and theologian (albeit a liberal one) who writes with a lot of insight into the nature of humanity. Despite the things I disagree with him over, I feel like he’s one of those people we can learn a lot from.
5. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
A great book if you’re into historical fantasy. Set in old Russia, the story follows the life of a young girl Vasya who can communicate with mythological creatures of tales she was told as a child. The book itself explores the conflict between Christianity and the old stories and folklore of Russia as Christianity dominates Russian life. Exceptionally fascinating and even though Christianity is painted to be the bad guys in the story, it serves as a reminder to those of us who would use religion for the wrong reasons (something we’re all privy to). I highly recommend it.
Let’s get real. There are many, many Christians out there that struggle going to church on a Sunday. You can’t just tell me it’s because they’re rebellious or whatever. In any given week, I speak to dozens of Christians from different gatherings where they express the same thoughts. At best going to church is something to do on a Sunday morning but it’s boring. The way we do church is very “one way.” We sit, stand, sit, listen to a speech from a person who we don’t really know about a book hardly any of us have learnt to actually read… We give money to an organisation because we think it’s what we’re supposed to do, we stand around the old dirty coffee urn and talk about the movies and how work was during the week… And at very best we go home with maybe a positive one-liner that we’ll forget by the next day like “God has a wonderful plan for your life.” We’re encouraged for all of Monday before reality comes crashing down on us and God’s wonderful plan looks more like broken despair then it does the upbeat abundant life that we’re told about. Church, as it is often done today, seems so out of touch with reality and out of touch with how it looks in the Bible. One can come and go from church for their entire lives without lifting a finger to love other people, without ever learning how to read the Bible for ourselves. We end up equating the Christian life being completed by going to a meeting for an hour or two per week.
It’s no wonder then that even myself, one who has (at least in my eyes) a high ecclesiology, who stresses the importance of going to Sunday meetings and recognises the God-ordained life-changing event that is church finds it incredibly difficult to find himself at home in one. In the entire time that I’ve been a Christian, there have only been two churches that I’ve felt that I belonged and content in. The first one was a church on the Sunshine Coast and the second was in Brisbane. The two churches couldn’t be any more different from one another, yet I felt at home in them because I believe for three excellent reasons.
1. They valued other people more than themselves. One church had the motto “people matter.” That rings true throughout everything they do. From the gym to the cafe, to the swimming pool to the church on a Sunday, this church has built a community where people feel at home. Where they can kick their shoes off, take a deep breath and try to pick up the pieces as they wander through this broken world. Sometimes they loved people so much that at times the line blurred between who were genuine Christians and who wasn’t. But I get it. When you love people so much, it can sometimes be challenging to draw distinctions because you want to always believe the best about them. My Church in Brisbane, on the other hand, was way more traditional. No community centre, no cafe, no swimming pool. Yet they carried your burdens and genuinely prayed for you. They were concerned about your holiness and love for God as well as your deep hurts and pains (1 Peter 4:8, John 15:12).
2. They loved the Bible. When I started going to the first church, they preached through the Bible in a year, twice. I got a great feed upon God’s Word and always walked away, knowing that God was speaking. The other church exposited the Scriptures with precision and clarity. Even on topics, I’d generally disagree with them on, I walked away, feeling God loved me and that He’d never forsake me. I can’t stress this enough, the importance and centrality of the Scriptures for a church. However, and this is true of almost every church I’ve been to, while in theory, they put the Bible into the hands of the people, and they encouraged the congregation to live by it there was no continuation or application on this through the rest of the week apart from a homegroup (Acts 17:11, Colossians 3:16).
3. You felt God. At both churches, I regularly experienced the presence of God. Whether it was through the sermons, the sacraments, or through the people, God moved, and God made Himself known to His people. It was sanctifying, transformational and pushed me forward into the presence of God (John 17:3, 1 John 4:16).
So what’s my point in all this?
“The man here tells us a truth that is awful – we baptise ourselves with names that are far from the only truth about ourselves.”
One of life’s biggest question’s is who are we? What does it mean to be human? What is our purpose in life? What is the meaning to all of this? Essential questions, unfortunately, not quickly answered.
The Scriptures tell a story about us that starts on the first few pages of this ancient book. Humanity is made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26), from the dust of the ground, from the breath of God’s nostrils (Genesis 2:7), and from one another (Genesis 2:22). Humans were created to be like God and relate to Him by ruling over God’s creation. They were created with a connection to the earth as they were to cultivate and protect it (Genesis 2:15). Finally, they were created from one another as it is not good for anyone to be alone (Genesis 2:18). In Genesis 3, we became something less than human as we failed to be like God, and we allowed the serpent to rule over us. We became less than human as we failed to protect the Garden from evil. Then, we failed in our relationship with one another as we immediately turned to blame one another for our mistakes.
At the Fall, something happened to humanity where we lost our identity. We don’t know who we are anymore, we don’t really understand what we’re meant to be doing because of that loss of self. So in an attempt to recover our lost sense of self, we grab anything that seems to offer an answer to the big question “who are we?” A lot of us, at least in the West, have bought into the modern cultural meta-narratives of capitalism, scientism, gender equality, and probably dozens of ideas I can’t really think of right now. Why? Because even those these in and of themselves aren’t bad, these things help us make sense of who we are yet never really give us the complete picture. Each little story or philosophical idea makes us feel safe for just a fleeting moment. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much science discovers, whether we find peace in the Middle East or if climate change is solved tomorrow, we’d still end up feeling sense of restlessness and loss of who we’re truly meant to be.
The Bible tells us that because we’re incapable of being human ourselves, God has to send someone who can fix that problem for us. Jesus is the perfect human. He was truly human in that He was completely like God (Colossians 1:15) He ruled over the serpent and evil (Matthew 4:1-11). He loved God and others as Himself (Matthew 22:36-40), even His enemies (Matthew 5:44). So as we’re united to Christ by His Spirit, we start to recover a real sense of who we’re all meant to be (I’m thinking the beatitudes here as an example). It’s only in Jesus that we truly begin our journey on becoming truly human, which will culminate in glory.
Ay, in the grove of the temple and in the shadow of the citadel I have seen the freest among you wear freedom as a yoke hand a handcuff. – The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran
Just a small reflection…
A strange reality lays deeply entrenched within the Christian spirit. Exile. What does it mean to be in exile? A person who has been estranged from their homeland, wandering the deserts of that is this world in search of rest. For the Christian, we walk to-and-fro not yet settled in the world as this present age is not our home. This age still ruled by the invisible forces that ensnare and capture the hearts of the unaware and the proud. They worship at the feet of bronze and gold, yet the Christian wanders evermore in worship as his God carries him along the path of righteousness. The Christian brushes his hand against stone and wood as he knows what this world will become – new. Creation is brimming with potential as it groans for its Painter to stroke His brush against the canvas of life once more as He brings everything to a glorious rest. There will be a new creation, a new day to come, yet it is still a ways off. In the meantime “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11). The deserts are dry, harsh and unforgiving. Yet, they offer sanctuary to the unwise as they seducee the imprudent traveller into a false rest, and the darkness yet again binds them to servitude. Death crouches among the dunes, but you must rule over it, dear reader.
Each one of us goes through our own personal exile. Disappointment, heartbreak, tragedy and our own trials and tribulations. Each one naturally drives us into solitude and brokenness, but God uses them and moulds us into who we are meant to be. He makes us truly human through our most human experiences. For now, we wander, growing, becoming and never settling. We live as exiles separated from our real home while strangely walking through it.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
The sun has risen at last, and Paul has instructed his hearers to live in light of that new day – Yet The Sun Will Rise, N.T. Wright
He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.
– Aeschylus, Agamemnon 1. 177
Yoda, Gandalf, Rafiki, Dumbeldore, Morpheus, Professor X are among some of the greatest and wisest of characters throughout fictional cinematic history. We immediately gravitate towards these characters because they guide the hero (us) along the path, without them, there would be no happy ending. We love them because each one of us craves to either have someone like that in our lives or because we wish we were like that ourselves. How great would it be to be as wise as these characters? Even within our own history, we envy those who have gone before who seemed glimpse into the world a little then ourselves. Buddha, Muhammed, The Dhali Lama, The Pope, Jesus Himself. Each one (whether you’re religious or not) a guru and a sage in their own right. Each one has changed the course of history and that of their people in profound ways we’re only still beginning to comprehend. If only we had just a slice of their wisdom and insight into the world, maybe we’d have inner peace, perhaps we’d have it all together like they did. Maybe.
Unfortunately, wisdom has a high price. Nothing in this world is free, and wisdom is no exception to this rule. Whether it was fighting a Balrog, fighting in the clone wars and being overthrown by the Sith or being on the constant lookout for the One, Yoda, Gandalf, Rafiki, Dumbeldore, Morpheus, Professor X all went through their own trials to gain the wisdom and knowledge they had. Gautama (the actual name for the Buddha) had to observe and experience suffering before realising it had to be overcome and thus becoming enlightened. Even the Dhali Lama, how many lives (it’s a Hindu thing) has he gone through to accumulate the wisdom he aims to share with the world? Then there’s Jesus Christ Himself the Son of God, the greatest of them all, yet even He suffered and died so that His saving Gospel could go forth into every nation, tribe and tongue. Wisdom comes at a high cost, and it is pain, trials and tribulation.
Not only does it take pain and trials to acquire wisdom, but it takes a vast amount of time to accumulate it. There’s a reason why age is associated with wisdom. It is because those who are older have gone through the pain, they’ve experienced the vanity of this world and grasp what it is that makes the world tick. This is tied to their experiences. No amount of sitting under a tree or inspirational mountain hikes or #worshipsessions will give you wisdom, it’s something God teaches you as you walk gradually through the highs and lows of life. But it does begin with God (Prov 2:6), and as the Spirit carries you along the rough seas of life, you must always keep in mind that each vouge is a lesson that the Master has to bestow to you. We must have ears to hear and eyes to see and open hearts to receive.
The Epistle of James is a timely piece to read and meditate on. The main theological theme of James is wisdom and faith during trials and tribulations. James encourages us to ask God for wisdom. For He will give it liberally without hesitation (James 1:5). That the sort of wisdom God gives is “pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17). That these good fruits are produced through patience and a lifetime of learning through trials (James 5:7-12).
For me, I am learning to embrace and cherish each moment that is painful and hard (and there’s been a few of them lately) as I try to remember that God is working this out for my good (Romans 8:28), that He is sovereign over history which includes my life (Genesis 5:20; Psalm 115:3; Proverbs 16:9), and that out of He will conform me to the likeness of His Son Jesus (Romans 8:29) who is wise beyond measure (Colossians 2:3).
“Time, as it grows old, teaches all things.”
I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the Rock of Ages. – C. H. Spurgeon
It’s only been hours since Jarrid Wilson pastor, and author of Love Is Oxygen: How God Can Give You Life and Change Your World, and Jesus Swagger died by suicide. As a personal favourite of mine, the news hit me hard. For the past two hours, I’ve been at a loss for word, tearing up, confused, shocked, and unable to properly process how someone like Jarrid – with a beautiful wife and two amazing kids, a successful author and megachurch pastor could, in a single moment give it all away. My heart aches for him, his friends and his family. I can bearly begin to fathom the hurt, trauma and anguish in the days, weeks, months and even years that are ahead for those closest to him. However, this hasn’t been the only case recently where a pastor has chosen to end their life rather than continue on. Suicide, depression and mental health problems are bombarding the Church in what seems like higher numbers than ever before. Personally, as someone who identifies strongly with this, I can’t help but say “this is not the kind of Christianity that I signed up for.” So many questions are rolling around in my head. Why is this happening to us? What is depression, and why is it so crippling? How do we fight this? Where’s God in all of this? I really don’t know.
This is not the Christianity I signed up for. Sure, I didn’t expect it to be all rainbows and butterflies, but the Christian life is meant to be full of joy and love and goodness, right? We were all told that God has a great and wonderful plan for our lives, that He wants to bless and prosper us. Where’s the light and easy yoke? Where’s the comfort, and the peace that surpasses all understanding? These are all legitimate promises and verses in the Bible, yet, in reality, it often feels like we rarely ever experience it. The fallen world gets the better of us. Sin crouches at the door, and it feels like we rarely rule over it. Depression smashes us and leaves us without hope, and we end up feeling like the Psalter who says:
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me? (Psalm 42:2-5a)
Notice though the glimmer of hope, how he longs to gladly shout praises amid his sorrow. How hard it is to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I get that … I really do. God, dear beloved friend, gets it even more. Jesus, the man of sorrows shares in your pain, your anguish and your tears and He took them to the Cross. He longs to take hold of you and never let go. He loves you more then I could ever express in mere words. I know it’s impossible for you to see, but He offers new life.
Depression is dark and uncertain, but God called forth light and defeated darkness on the Cross so that we might live and live it abundantly.
I don’t have answers. God does. Take up your swords fellow depressed and beaten down brothers and sisters, slay that which seeks to destroy your soul, take hold of the One who wants to bear your burden and for God sakes join arms with others. Please, we want to help you even if all we can do is hug you tight and pray. The fight sucks, but it is worth it…
Finally, here is my challenge:
A friend of mine once said the “Gospel” we preach today is the reason why so many people are at a loss with the Church. It’s the reason why so many of us are struggling with depression, anxiety, gender identity, and why once-famous Christians are walking away. Maybe. I think everyone believes that their “Gospel” is the right one. I think everyone thinks that if everyone just got their “Gospel” then the world would change and BAM! Jesus comes back and all is well with the world. The problem with thinking like that is that even in the midst of biblical Christianity, the Apostles had a lot of crap to deal with. Life didn’t get better for them, it got worse. They had hope in Jesus, but in their immediate set of circumstances, the Church was killed and ostracised for being a cult and for rebelling against the State (the Roman Empire). I’m now half a world away and two thousand years into the future. There might not be a Roman Empire per se, but mental health issues, social and educational persecution, the prosperity Gospel, liberalism and a swath of issues are on the front lines of the Church’s Western Front. Principalities and powers indeed.
Not only that but more than ever in the history of humanity information and in turn philosophical and scientific theories are spreading like wildfire. You can walk into one room full of ten people with vastly different perspectives and get ten different definitions on the meaning of life and how it should be lived. Even among Christians, I’ve rarely met any two people who could agree on what it even means to be Christian. We all say yes and amen at “love thy neighbour,” but what it actually means to do that looks completely different to whoever it is your talking to.
Personally, as I venture down the black hole that is theological and philosophical thought, I find myself, in my strive for wisdom, in a constant inner war between two primary concepts; meaninglessness and purpose (found in Christ). I find myself very much at home with the existentialist or even the authour of Ecclesiastes. There is a realness to life I think we all try to avoid. We all wear smiles as we attempt to turn that frown upside down. It’s socially awkward to admit that life sucks. “How are you?” “Yeah, good” or “not bad” is our autoresponse. Life slaps us in the face when a loved one dies or a tragedy befalls us. Suddenly it’s ok to cry, to mourn and to hurt… yet… every one of us does that every day. There’s a beautiful dread to life that we hate admitting exists. If it weren’t for the Gospel then where would I, or any of us be?
Here’s my point to all of this. Human, get good at talking about the pain and the hurt and the despair. These are real things forming (perhaps even unwittingly) an identity inside every one of us. They take root, they form us and they make us into who we are behind the masks we all wear. Then thrust the Gospel of life into their hearts. Peel back the layers of chaos and bring the shalom each one us truly aches for. Life is beautiful but it can be more in Jesus the Messiah.
“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another” (Galatians 5:14; Romans 12:9, 15; John 13:35).
500 years ago, the hammer fell, and the nail-pierced the door at Wittenburg, which gave birth to the Protestant movement which, over time, grew into the theologically diverse Church that we have today. Some say this is a bad thing, that Protestants never agree on anything, everyone in a sense is their own Pope, their own ultimate authority. People argue that the Protestant movement is so fractured that it works against the unity that Scripture promotes (John 17:23; 1 Cor 1:10; Eph 4:11-13; Col 3:13-14). Indeed I say, the Bible promotes unity and even commands it. But you know the old saying, sometimes you have to crack a few eggs to make the perfect omelette.
Granted, that omelette is still being cooked (we’re always reforming). However, I believe as one friend told me a long time ago that the diversity in the Protestant movement is actually apart of God’s will to deliberately hold the entire Church accountable to interpreting His Word correctly, rather than relying on just one or a few people to interpret it rightly for us (this is known as the priesthood of believers). This was a huge part of the Reformation, the Word was placed into the hands of all of God’s people, not just a few “qualified” men. Praise God for that. We can’t though, simply turn a blind eye to obvious differences in our movement. One can walk down a street and note a Presbyterian church next to a Uniting, next to a Baptist, next to a Lutheran, next to an Anglican, all within thirty seconds of one another. With the wealth of information (largely thanks to the internet) and the progression of theological scholarship, even just one local church can have a diverse theological membership or leadership within its own congregation. So, how do we then “major on the majors, and minor on the minors” so the speak? How do we minister with the vast range of theological differences even within our own local churches?
Short answer – it depends. Read on.
1. Confessions or statements of faith:
Throughout church history, many confessions, creeds, and statements have been written and nutted out by men greater than most of us that usually major on the majors. These majors include the nature of God, the hypostatic union, the nature of humanity, inerrancy and inspiration concerning Scripture, the atonement, sacraments, and in one way or another the Gospel (repentance, faith, Jesus’ life, death and resurrection etc.). Reading through some of these and even potentially adopting one for your own church (or even for just yourself) will go a long way in avoiding potential pitfalls in the future.
2. Humility and grace:
We must remember, especially those of us who are theologically trained, to maintain a position of humility and grace to those we disagree with on the minors. Minor doctrines are positions we might take that we personally believe are clear in the Scriptures but don’t necessarily affect one’s standing with God. These minors issues might include eschatology, Calvinism/Arminianism/ Molinism, the age of the earth or universe (evolution and science etc.), continuationism/cessationism, again the sacraments (depending on one’s view, you can categorise some of these in different tiers), complementarianism/egalitarianism. We must always be ready to be wrong on minor issues while still believing we’re right on what we believe (otherwise, why believe it?).
3. Ecclesiology, prayer, and coffee:
Almost every Protestant denomination majors on the majors. You should be able to walk into a Presbyterian church, a Baptist church, a Lutheran church, and here the same Gospel being preached to their members. However, secondary issues can affect how we minister together practically. For example, pedo vs credo baptism understandably affects the way one does church, and it has some bearing on how the Gospel is displayed, but the differences aren’t salvific. Something like this I would categorise as a secondary issue – important enough that it affects our ecclesiology, but not so important that I wouldn’t consider the person I disagree with a heretic. A third-tier issue is something like eschatology or the age of the earth, these don’t necessarily have a bearing on your ecclesiology but are important enough to how one largely interprets the Bible and in turn the Christian life. These things can affect how we do church (depending on how militant the person is about their position), but they don’t have to. Third-tier issues can inevitably tie into second and even major tiered issues, so it’s understandable why, in some cases, people may not be able to minister together. However, if leaders and members can somehow embrace the differences, it would make for a theologically, robust church.
This kind of unity is fostered by taking the command to love one another seriously (John 13:34-35), to maintain a humble yet open disposition displayed first from the leadership and then by the members. Lots of prayers, as I’ve heard it said, you can’t hate someone you pray for often, and lots of conversations over good quality coffee with an open Bible. Finally, I’d say encourage mature theological discussion and training. Whether it’s from a seminary, college or your own church, people can only grow if you’re willing to teach. If we can encourage this kind of unity and maturity in our theological development, it will hopefully flow out into our churches. It’s hard but not impossible, and I think the rewards are worth it. At the end of the day if the differences end up being too great, at least walk away in love trying to keep the unity of the faith.