doesn't feel like family?

I'm having a relationship difficulty that reminded me of the difficulty between Christians of different denominations. Where we may admit that we believe these others are Christians, our brothers and sisters in Christ, yet we don't feel very connected with them. They seem foreign to us. Maybe this is because of cultural differences, or points of doctrine, or our different ways of living the Christian life, but we don't really feel one with them even though we call ourselves parts of the same family, even the same Body.

Now I don't think simply that everyone is united, "ALL ONE!" as Dr. Bronner proclaims on his soap bottles. But those who are Christians, who confess Christ and offer signs in their lives that they are like him (and are becoming more like him), are truly united. When Paul heard of divisions in the Corinthian church, he asked incredulously, "Is Christ divided?" (1 Cor 1).

But there are denominations now. And some Christians do feel disconnected from one another. So what do we do?

I think the first thing to do is not accept those denominational lines and feelings of otherness as the reality. The reality is that Christ is not divided. If we are connected with him then we are connected with everyone else who is connected with him, we are brothers and sisters with them, we are the same Body. (I've tried to live this practically by worshipping and working with Christians of all kinds, wherever I find them.) And the deeper we enter into oneness with Christ, the more we will feel one with those who are his.

As for those Christians who don't feel this yet, I think the best thing to do is wait for them. We should neither despair nor try to force unity by debate or compromise. Dialogue may help, but it is often very limited. The simpler language of actions may communicate better. "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (Jn 13.35) "For the tree is known by its fruit." (Mt 12.33) And we wait, resting in the oneness that is real, and waiting for them to recognize us as their family, their own body.

Then we can rejoice together.