Have you ever hosted a party, invited people who didn’t know each other, held your breath, and prayed that camaraderie will quickly develop? CBE events are often like that, yet I continue to marvel at how easily friendships build.
On one occasion I seriously questioned whether it would happen. As CBE members began arriving for a first CBE committee meeting, I greeted them in the parking lot. I quickly noticed that two leaders displayed bumper stickers with the name of the candidate they hoped would move into the White House. The trouble was, they were not the same person. I watched these two young leaders shake hands while glaring at each other’s bumper sticker.
A few uneasy moments followed until the excitement of planning the first-ever CBE event in their large metropolis grew. In spite of politics, they readily agreed upon the critical truth that God gives gifts to all Christians without regard to gender.
At CBE we are a diverse group of Christians, with our members representing over 100 different denominations. How on earth do we agree on anything? I am reminded of the early church, which was also certainly a diverse group. They lived with radically different cultures, eating habits, languages, and ways of worshipping. With such a long list of differences, how did this group ever find common ground?
Although they disagreed on many issues, the early believers held one thing in common — Christ’s completed work on Calvary. Verses like Galatians 3:28 (“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus”) were some of the Bible-glue that held them together.
They needed this glue because their inclination was to make personal preferences and cultural customs into moral absolutes. We see these conflicts in passages like Acts 15, where the believers in Jerusalem struggled with whether Gentiles should be circumcised, and in 1 Corinthians 8, where Paul addresses the question of whether Christians should eat food sacrificed to idols. Paul and the other leaders continually brought the early Christians back to the fundamentals.
CBE has similar glue: CBE’s Statement of Faith and Core Values. Like the early church, we too disagree on many things, yet we come together as Christians to communicate the truth of Galatians 3:28 that God gives gifts to all Christians, regardless of gender, race, or class. We envision a future when believers can use these gifts with the full support of the Christian community.
These commitments form the lens through which we choose resources for our book service, invite speakers to conferences and select material for our publications. We ask those who serve the CBE community to agree to our Statement of Faith, and nothing more. That is why we can have over 100 different denominations represented in our membership. Perhaps more importantly, that is how CBE can serve such a diverse group of Christians.
By remaining focused on our mission, we can shake hands and work together planning CBE events, while at the same time disagreeing upon who should live in the White House. Thank you for joining with us in proclaiming that the good news is for all people.