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Remembering Who We Are

Remembering Who We Are

On the newscasts that come into our homes, they are the Serbs and Muslims, Bosnians and Yugoslavs, or perhaps also Croats and Serbs. All are factions of what once was Yugoslavia, now engaged in an on again/off again war for land and freedom and power--most of all, power. Hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled the once beautiful cities of the area, like Sarajevo, host of Winter Olympic just a few years ago. In the Croatian capital of Zagreb, there are no signs of war, except for the 20% unemployment that leaves many, especially refugees, crowding the streets of the town square each day.
But in a building just off of the town square, the old identities of Serb, Muslim, Croat, refugee, or native, all have given way to a new identity in Christ. One of the most impressive parts of being with the Christians in Zagreb was their recognition that, in Christ Jesus, there is no longer “male or female, Jew or Greek, slave or free, but all are one.” Coming together is always a joyous occasion, always a celebration of new life. Their time together is most precious to them. Their prayer life together is of crucial importance. Every morning at 8:30 different members gather for prayer. The barriers that now separate a country once united by communism are torn down once more by the identity in Christ that these people share.
As I watched their love for each other, and realized how important their community identity as Christians is to them, I wondered about all that we have assumed and even forgotten in our culture. We have so many “advantages” which permit us to make our church life and Christian identity just one more commitment among others, just one more identity among others (often not as important as our professional identity, or socio-economic identity, or school identity, or age group identity, or marital status). Even when we come together, there are distinctions made that separate us rather than unite us, that separate our children from each other, that can leave strangers still feeling like strangers after several weeks or months.
I do not pray that God make us like Croatia, but I do pray that God will help us to remember who we are, and that each time we come together, our oneness in Christ will take precedence over all other identities. I pray that we may all be one, as the Father and the Son are one. I pray that the expectancy of being together as the body of Christ will become more exciting and more inviting than any other activity in our lives. Will you join me in that prayer?
John O. York

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