Break the church-world divide.
Of the common threads we all experience, one is dissonance within the church, specifically with trying to explain to others how our professional engagement in different parts of the world is not only necessary but also really beautiful. We need to figure out how to soften the church-world divide that assumes everything outside the church is bad and instead look at the redemptive areas within our spheres of influence.
Know what you believe.
An essential part of engaging across differences is knowing what you believe. You don’t want to send people out to bridge divides if they don’t actually know what they believe. Things like discipleship and spiritual formation are really important. People who know what they believe are more free to partner across even radical differences.
Go to uncomfortable places.
Pastors, if you know your people are well-formed, don’t be afraid to send them out and into surprising places. Jesus always disrupted social norms by being seen with people he was not supposed to be around. We need to prepare people to walk into uncomfortable places where their first thought is not, “Is this going to corrupt me” but “What an opportunity to share the love of Christ in whatever way I’ve been called to do.”
Love the image-bearer across the table.
Tolerance is a relational value directed at other human beings. For Christians, the other image-bearer across the table. We start by recognizing our shared humanity. In crisis moments, we are intuitively reminded that we share a whole lot in common. But for Christians, it can’t just be tolerance — but love.
Uncommon Ground: Living Faithfully in a World of Difference (Thomas Nelson 2020, $25.99)
John Inazu’s new book, which he co-edited with pastor Timothy Keller, came out in April. It brings together Christians from different professional, social, and ecclesiastical perspectives to model — as you could guess from the subtitle — faithful disagreement. The people you’ll find are:
Claude Richard Alexander
Kristen Deede Johnson
Tish Harrison Warren