Every week I drive down to Franklin in order to attend an open meeting for Christian men (the Samson Society, www.samsonsociety.org). We gather for mutual support, prayer, and friendship. In the two and a half years I’ve been making this little pilgrimage, I have been blessed to get to know a lot of great guys. I have good relationships with many of these men. Among these, there are three with whom I have formed an incredibly deep brotherhood. I can’t imagine not having Jim, Scott, and Steve in my life.
When I first started coming, we all met at a Presbyterian church. It became clear to me that many, if not most, of the men were members of this congregation. I remember one night at “announcement time.” One well meaning guy took the opportunity to extol us to “really remember what (the preacher) talked about at church yesterday.” One of my new friends raised his hand and reminded everyone that this group was not a church function, and that men from a number of churches were in the room.
As the group has grown, guys from all over the area have joined. There are people from a great variety of churches, and a surprising number who don’t really attend church. We gather in the name of Jesus, agree to a basic Christian theology of God and humanity, and pray together. Sometimes our backgrounds become obvious, but rarely are they obnoxious.
I had an experience recently that brought home the wonder of Christian brotherhood. I was gathered with a small group for sharing. After the meeting was over, we decided to circle up and pray for each other. One of the guys in that circle had been brought up to believe that everyone who was not a member of his brand of Christianity was going to burn in hell. And, no, I am not exaggerating.
As I lay my hand on this man’s shoulder, I prayed God’s blessing upon him. And he agreed with my prayer, and prayed for the Lord to do his work in my life as well. I felt a powerful oneness in the Holy Spirit. My eyes teared up, as did his. I don’t know why he felt moved, but I know why I did. I felt that a barrier had fallen. He grew up believing I was hell-bound. I grew up believing there was no hell, and that this guy must be some sort of idiot (or worse). But there we were, speaking blessings in the Name of Jesus on one another. As the preachers say, we found common ground at the foot of the Cross.
For me, this was a small glimpse of heaven, a window into a greater reality. A reminder that our salvation, our healing, and our wholeness is found in the risen life of Christ, not in out self-important differences. And as we draw nearer to Jesus, some of our differences can begin to melt away.
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