Is Christian unity possible?

To the editor:

On Jan. 12 there was a unity service held at St. Bernard’s Church in Saranac Lake, held to affirm the unity of Christian churches in the area and nationally. The choir was a combination of the St. Bernard’s and the First Presbyterian Church choirs. It was a wonderful service. After attending, it hit me that, as wonderful as it was, we really are not that united.

If we, as Christians, can’t get along ourselves, then how can we help others who have no religion or faith to fall back on in tough times? How can we show the love Christ intended as written in the Gospels?

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

I believe, in America, we have lost sight of one central truth that runs through the whole of the Bible and history, that life is supposed to be hard. Don’t for a moment allow yourself to succumb to the unbiblical, unreal American ideal that life is supposed to be pain-free, comfortable and easy. How many people have you talked with who complain about a difficult circumstance in life, and the underlying presupposition of the complaint is that the difficulty they’re experiencing is wildly abnormal.

Difficult people, not getting your way, being frustrated and being misunderstood is normal. It’s normal for things in this world to break down. It’s normal to have a piece of equipment or technology that fails to function. It is normal to misplace things, to not have enough money to buy everything that you want, to be hassled at your job. It’s normal to have less than perfect relationships in your home. Extended family problems are normal. Dealing with ridiculous bureaucracy is normal.

All these things are normal. Jesus said, “I’ve told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Why don’t we paste that on our bathroom mirrors as a promise for each day? “In this world you will have trouble.”

Likewise, the apostle Paul said, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)

Peter puts it plainly when he says, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12)

Yes, there is always hope. The frail human has faith and hope that things will get better. We have free will and can turn our backs on each other and God. Yet what we crave most is warmth, love and acceptance – things a family can give, even a dysfunctional family. So please come and join the family and see what your local churches can offer you. Let’s help one another in love and acceptance.

Trudy Shaffer

Saranac Lake