In the midst of all these recent developments Roman Catholics, who already had a major encouragement to engage with the rest of us in the pursuit of Christian unity because of Vatican II, began to seriously join these missional conversations. They are also taking part in city-wide efforts to reach the un-churched. Pope John Paul II’s call for the “re-evangelization” of the West has been heard by many younger Catholics. These young Catholics are meeting with many of these young Protestants. They are beginning to see how much they can do together. This began in the pro-life movement but it is clearly moving beyond those concerns. This is not about a political alliance for conservative values but rather about a common sense of identity in the ancient creeds joined with a common call to share the love of Christ in every way possible. The Orthodox Church is a different story altogether. Many Orthodox Christians have remained comfortably ensconced in their ethnic churches and thus have had little or nothing to do with other Christians relationally. More recently some evangelical Protestants have entered the Orthodox Church. Their number seems to be growing. There seems to be a pretty significant number of these former-evangelical Protestants who talk about their movement to Orthodoxy. My personal hope is that these new, young Orthodox converts will join with some wiser and older Orthodox priests and lay leaders to form a new coalition of Orthodox Christians in America who will then contribute out of the richness of their own tradition to the rest of us in the body of Christ.
I see a tiny spark of hope right now. I intend to fuel and fan this spark into a flame as much as God gives me the grace and the strength. I believe that we need the richness of all believers—Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant—if the body of Christ is to breathe well. John Paul II was right when he said that the church had two lungs: East and West. To be a healthy body we truly do need both lungs working well. Now, what has happened in America is interesting.
Issues like abortion have prompted many Christians to see how they have the same answer to one important ethical issue about life and family. But the concern doesn’t stop there. As we talk together more openly we learn just how much we have to share with one another. We have begun to pray together and we have even found ways to bear witness to our common faith in the marketplace.
Missions, ministries and churches have united in prayer walks, in local fellowships for particular missions, as well as in conversations that benefit all Christians in their personal growth and development. These grass-roots movements are where I think you will see the most lasting kingdom fruit as Christians connect relationally in the love of Christ and in concern for his kingdom as they pray together, “Your kingdom come, you will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
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