Why Unity in the Church & Amongst Us Really Matters

Kelly Minter and I have gone for long walks and talked late over shared plates and it was never long enough. I could listen to Kelly talk about Jesus forever because she is real and honest and warm and loves Jesus with every fibre of her being. Kelly’s Bible studies have profoundly impacted my walk with Jesus, studies I have returned to over and over again. A down-earth woman who loves people around her table, cooking, gardening, late afternoon walks, music and her local church, Kelly and I’ve laughed that we need to figure out how to find away to move our farm closer to her garden or vice versa.  It’s a ridiculous joy to invite a woman I love like a sister to the farm’s front porch today  —-

by Kelly Minter
The air was clear and the summer afternoon crisp with a light breeze.

I love the North in August because, for the most part, humidity can’t cast its net that far.

My friend and I were on a lonesome road picking wild blueberries with a new acquaintance who’d let us in on her secret spot.

“I’ve been picking here for years”, Kathryn said with her Michigan accent, handing me her bug spray.

“And this year’s a beauty.”

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The ground teemed with tiny dots of blue as though strung with a million Christmas lights, each a slightly different hue.

As many of these lights as I could gather would be baked into the night’s blueberry buckle, a recipe I’d found in the cupboard of the cottage I was staying at. It was dated August 8, 1972 and signed, Aunt Elotia. The name alone felt promising.

The three of us spread out, picking mostly in silence. I just don’t get enough purposeful solitude— or perhaps I don’t plan for it enough.

The sensory motion of twisting bunches of blueberries off their stems and into a bowl was cathartic and mindless. Although, not truly mindless. The serene landscape and repetitive picking cleared my mind to consider thoughts I’m too full to think when I’m caught in the busyness of routine.

That’s when I considered the differing colors before me: Cerulean, navy, periwinkle, grocery-store-blueberry blue. I wondered what all these varieties were and how they came to grow together so nicely?

My mind flew back to the previous spring when I stood at the cashier’s desk at the farmers’ market.

As the clerk scanned the five blueberry plants I’d carted to the front, he’d asked me if I had selected at least two different varieties.

I had, but not out of expertise, simply out of a panicky disposition at the thought of missing out. One variety grew like mad, another boasted flavor, others were known for their baking qualities.

I had to grow them all, or course. “The more varieties, the better when it comes to blueberries”, he said while tallying my purchase.

You’ll have a longer season and bigger yield. Blueberries need to cross-pollinate.

I snapped back to the countless blueberry bushes bounding wildly out of the ground in the countryside of Michigan where this conversation had returned to me.

All these varieties are helping each other grow, I remembered.

Light and dark, plump and meager, sweet and tart, thriving together on the same forest floor, under the same water and sky. I dropped another handful into my bowl and couldn’t miss the metaphor of the body of Christ on display before me.

Cross-pollination is the transfer of pollen from the flower of one plant to the flower of another plant with a different makeup. Here’s the prize: for the sake of reproduction and/or mutual enrichment.

I thought about my own Bible church upbringing and how for many years I viewed the charismatics as too crazy spiritual, the Anglicans too liturgical, the Baptists too structured. I was leery of anyone whose flavor of Christianity wasn’t just like mine.

And then I started traveling.

And I found that I loved when the charismatics prayed over me with their passion and belief. I occasionally sought them out for “my word.”

I loved how the Presbyterians could always find Christ in the Old Testament, how the high church believers knew holy reverence, and how no one could serve a community in crisis like the Baptists, with their casseroles and prayer teams on the move.

And this is not to mention the differing personalities that hang from the same bush of a denomination. Soft spoken, upfront, servant, teacher, leader, helpmeet, confrontational, meek, funny, timid, just plain odd. (As one old pastor once told me, “There were a lot of strange critters on that ark.”)

Unity is a big deal to Jesus.

So much so that He said our love for one another would be the defining marker of our faith (John 13:35).

Whenever I spend time with believers of differing denominations, backgrounds and cultures, I am challenged and inspired. I am stronger.

That day in the blueberry fields while crouched in the midst of numerous varieties growing alongside one another for the betterment of each other, I saw this phenomenon at work. Proliferation. Health. Strength. Diversity. The blueberry bushes were doing it so well. And so must the church.

Pondering these truths, I noticed my bowl was growing full and my legs were a little shaky from all the up and down.

I called for my friend to see if she was ready to head back.

She carried her bounty toward me—pointed out that she was a faster picker—and then the two of us headed for the car after a good day of rest and reminders.

As we padded down the trail I noticed out of the corner of my eye my friend rummaging in her pocket and then the others, patting her shirt pocket as well. I knew this to be a bad sign; this could be nothing but the universal symbol of not knowing where one’s keys are.

For the next hour we traced our steps and scoured the terrain for that one rental car key that must have slipped out her pocket when reaching for one of the hundreds of blueberries she had in her pile.

In the end, it cost $50 for the rental car company to send someone to break into the car so we could retrieve our belongings. $150 to tow the car to the nearest dealership. $200 for another key to be made. We determined that the evening’s blueberry buckle made with free blueberries cost us around $400.

This is my friend, though. These bungles and mishaps find her, or she stumbles onto them, or they simply fall out of her pocket into vast fields of blueberries.

But I wouldn’t trade our differences in personality, her vibrancy and unpredictability, for the world.

Nor would I trade my dear relationships from differing denominations, backgrounds or cultures.

We need one another in the body of Christ, not just because this is a nice sentiment; rather it’s essential to the mutual enrichment of the body of Christ.

Plus, it makes for a more flavourful dessert—

even if it costs you a little more than you planned on spending.

 

 

 


Kelly Minter grew up a pastor’s kid in Northern, VA, eventually landing in Nashville, TN. A few moderately successful records later, she wrote her first bible study on modern day-idolatry called No Other Gods.
Her first bible study was followed up by Ruth, then Nehemiah and soon to be released, What Love Is on the letters of 1, 2 & 3 John (Nov 2014). In the middle of writing and speaking, Kelly traveled to the Amazon river with Justice and Mercy International on a moderately reliable, double-decker, wooden river boat. It was in the Amazon that God used the poor and forgotten to transform her heart more closely to His own.  Like Beth Moore says, “Kelly Minter writes the way a portrait artist paints” and her latest book, Wherever The River Runs,  is an exquisite journey down a river that teems with piranhas, caimans, a beautiful people, and, especially, Jesus, who hold all things together.  

I read everything Kelly Minter writes because she knows and walks with Jesus in a way that is not only exceedingly rare and authentic — but profoundly Scriptural and deeply inspirational. Wherever The River Runs will inspire you to not settle for anything less than taking leaps of faith.

 

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Related: This Week’s Memory Prints from #Scripture Memorization for the Rest of Us 
The Jesus Project: Memory Project 2014
For our series of Wednesday posts unpacking the #TheJesusProject and the book of John
To download all of our free scripture memory prints

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