During my recent journey to Jerusalem, our sweet guide kept telling us that most things in Israel come in pairs. Over centuries, people with competing agendas and perspectives have claimed different sites where a myriad of biblical events occurred. We would frequently ask, “Is this location historical or traditional?” as we approached a new site.
One such competing pair in the Holy Land is the location of Jesus’s crucifixion and burial. The first, and more likely site, was where the Church of the Holy Sepulchre now stands. During one of our days in the Old City, we navigated narrow, crowded street markets and climbed through winding staircases until we came to an incredibly ornate church.
Swarming with people, candles, priests, and incense, the church had been built up over the years to both merge together and unintentionally disguise the original location of the cross and tomb. What had always been two distinct locations in my mind, now were housed within one ornate place.
Sadly, this very sacred location has been so highly revered by different Christian groups that they have had to negotiate among themselves to have a neutral party, a M#slim family, hold the key to the property and unlock it each morning. Another church we visited took 800 years to agree on beginning renovations to the aging building as three different branches of the Christian faith share ownership.
There is something so troubling to me that our testimony to the world is often one of distrusting each other. What does it say to the world that we cannot have trust among believers? In the Holy Land, there are locations where Christians, Jews, and Muslims simultaneously claim ownership. Christian sites should not be where we waste our energy quibbling.
While this image may seem very distant from your daily reality in the United States, I think there is great application for us corporately and personally. As a believer, there are certain non-negotiable tenets of our faith. We must be willing to stand for them, but there are so many minor issues and traditions that we waste our time debating and defending. We must choose to “major on the majors and minor on the minors.” I truly do not think that worship styles and baptism methods are what break God’s heart as He looks at His Church. One way to discern what truly matters to ask the Lord to give you a heart that loves what He loves and hate what He hates. I think this is a prayer that He longs to answer in each of us.
We must also choose this same approach with our family and friends. Major on what is important. If there is unresolved tension that hinders the relationship, do what you can “to be at peace with all men.” But also consider, how many minor things are keeping you from being fully engaged with those you love. Do not allow yourself to miss God’s fullest life in your relationships distracted by things that in God’s perspective are irrelevant.