I don't know about you, but I long to see a new cross-cultural Pentecost in place of the current ecclesiastical Babel.
Oh that is good stuff. One of the things that is interesting about Pentecost is how diverse the crowd was...
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians--we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." (Act 2:5-11)
That is just amazing! The providential and sovereign hand of God was over each one of these men from around the world, bringing them all together to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. Not one person was there by accident.The message of the Gospel and the practice of the church is designed to tear down walls and barriers among believers. We once were not a people but now we are God's people (1 Peter 2:10). There is one body, one bread (1 Cor 10:16-17). The cross has made those who were once enemies into something new, not just no longer enemies but eternally family. What have we done with that?
Well, we have done our best to alternately try to force conformity and a false unity by compulsion, fear, control and violence and then on the other hand we have divided ourselves over and over again into competing factions, bunkered up behind the four walls of our buildings and shielded with "membership", clergy and doctrinal statements to keep the wrong sorts out and the right sorts in. I think the comparison to Babel is an apt one. We all seem to be speaking different messages all the time and creating a cacophony of competing priorities, none of which get to the heart of the mission of the church. Few of us ask any questions, challenge any traditions or are willing to bend.
Like Dave, I am longing for a day of Pentecost in the church were Baptists and Methodists, Mennonites and Pentecostals, Presbyterians and Lutherans all count the Gospel as more important than their distinctives and see unity as a primary doctrine worthy of our concern. There are plenty of people hurting and lost without Christ, plenty of orphans to fee and widows to visit, plenty of hungry to feed and prisoners to see. There is no need for us to fight and squabble, there is plenty to go around.