A Lutheran pastor, an Episcopalian priest, and a Roman Catholic brother sit around and have a beer. It’s not the opening line of a joke, it’s what happened on October 31st on the couches of University Lutheran. Others were invited, and we even would have invited the Baptist guy had he been there – but the three of us were free, so we sat down, had a beer, and talked about our faith, our churches, and what it is like to be a campus minister at Florida State from our different perspectives.
We don’t agree on theology. We were willing to look past that and forgive one another for wrongs done, as well as approach one another with an attitude of forgiveness for things that we would eventually unwittingly say that would offend the other. We weren’t sitting around because we had the same answers to big important questions about God. In fact, we were sitting around because we have different answers, but we could at least agree on Jesus.
I’m not much of a “sit around the campfire and sing kumbaya” kind of guy. In fact, those people usually give me the willies. I’m not into unity for unity’s sake, and I don’t think that John 17:21 (“that they may be one”) should be read without context. But I will sit down and have a beer with just about anyone, especially if they are buying – like Brother Clint from the Catholic Student Union did, thanks Clint!
I already said that we didn’t agree on everything, and that we at least agreed on Jesus, but there is something else we agree on. All of us are pained when we see people who are living without Jesus or with less Jesus in their lives than they could have. Last night’s conversation was mostly about that – about how we wanted to see students find faith in Jesus, about how we wanted the students who have Jesus in their lives to go deeper with Him.
In that room that night, I was the only person who was not an adult convert to Christianity. Those guys know a pain that I cannot remember – the pain of being separate from Christ. That is a pain that so many of this campus are experiencing. But more than that, there are so many more people who have tasted of Christ – but who are the wandering wounded on this campus, having separated themselves from the Church, some never to come back.
I was told a story that before I arrived, University Lutheran brought in a consultant who told them that the mission statement of the church was affixed to the building in big bold letters – “U-N-I-V-E-R-S-I-T-Y L-U-T-H-E-R-A-N”. We are to be Lutherans for the University. We are to be God’s Body, His manifest hands and feet to serve those who are unchurched, dechurched, and underchurched. But we’re not doing this alone or in a vacuum. We are challenged in a healthy way by our brothers and sisters from other theologies and traditions – challenged to press forward.
Because someday, we will be having a beer together in the Resurrection, and we want more than three campus ministers there from Florida State.