Over lunch, I told our host dad about the experience and mentioned that we were the only “gringos” at the church. Laughing, he suggested that maybe we were the only Christians, too. While I don’t know the whole story, the reasoning he gave for thinking the church is faltering on faithfulness to truth seemed pretty silly to me and I think could be more of a misunderstanding of Anglican practices than a doctrinal disagreement.
Why such division and judgment? My heart is heavy as I consider how far away this seems from the heart of the Gospel, the heart of Jesus. When did diversity within the Church become such a source of pain? I want to be respectful of the Peruvian Christians I meet, but I know also that I have a responsibility to do what I can in seeking a faithful expression of the Kingdom of God here. To me that includes (as one of the highest values) unity and ecumenicalism, particularly in the sense of honoring the spaces where we are the same and learning from the spaces where we are different. My desire is to extend a heart slow to judge and eager to understand to all expressions of Christianity, Catholicism included, although I know that is a sensitive topic for many.
Where is the road where I can stand by my own convictions with determination and deep faith and simultaneously respect, honor, and work alongside people different from me, even those with whom I have significant disagreements? To me it begins with listening. After all, sometimes it’s less disagreement and more misunderstanding. Lord, give me an open heart to understand the people around me, to withhold judgment, to talk less and listen more, to love with your heart and through your Spirit. In Jesus’ name.