I wasn't expecting visitors that frigid Saturday afternoon, but there was the ringing of my doorbell, announcing the presence of some bundled caller on my front step. Bracing myself against the cold, I opened the door and looked into the faces of two smiling women.
"We're here to bring you the good news that God is working in your life," one said.
"Here's how you can find out more," said the other, handing me several pamphlets.
They wished me a pleasant afternoon and carefully made their way down the front walk, still slippery from an early-morning snowfall. I watched them go. Wrapped in layers against the bitter February wind, they were two women with a mission, and no New England winter was about to deter them.
I can't say I gave much thought or time to the pamphlets they'd given me, but their presence lingered for hours after they'd gone. What they'd left behind was something more significant than their denomination's message of salvation. It was a spirit of devotion that touched the core of me. Amazingly, they'd left me - changed.
I'd been feeling disillusioned about church, frustrated with differing opinions and disparate viewpoints that seemed irreconcilable. What I loved about church - the spirit, the dedication, the fellowship - was becoming overshadowed by personalities that rubbed me the wrong way and by perspectives I couldn't relate to.
In comparison to the out-and-out feuding I'd heard about from members at other churches, I knew I had it good. In spite of our differences, we still had a spirit of cooperation and caring and giving that crossed "party lines."
But recently, there'd been a crummy feeling in my heart when I thought about church. And though I'd prayed about it with some discipline, I was still feeling bogged down by negativity.
That afternoon, though, as I sat in front of the fire, thinking about my unexpected visitors, I felt something inside me shift. Though I didn't see eye to eye theologically with the women who'd stopped by, I was struck by the thought that it didn't really matter. Like them, I felt a deep devotion to God, a desire to serve Him and to dedicate my life to communicating His love to others. In that spirit, we were united. And when it came right down to it, what we shared was far more potent than our differences.
The connection I felt with those women - complete strangers - was what washed away the crumminess I was feeling with regard to my own fellow church members. I'd glimpsed that what unites is far more powerful than what tries to divide.
Within my own church, of course, we share a theological perspective. But deeper than that lies the tie that binds our hearts together: a love for what God is doing for the world and a dedication to helping people discover that.
In her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy wrote that "God is indivisible" (page 336). I think this explains the heart-to-heart link I felt with my visitors - and the new sense of unity I was experiencing when I thought about church. Since God made everything, and indivisibility is part of His nature, then this law of "connectedness," or unity, must therefore apply to His creation. In other words, if God can't be divided, then neither can we.
The Apostle Paul touched on this fact in one of his letters: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28). I love this idea of being united in Christ. It's the ultimate fellowship: being so focused on God and His message of love that all differences - big and small - simply cease to matter.
I learned from my visitors a lesson about oneness that I won't soon forget. Before their arrival, I'd been fixated on un-Godlike personalities, opinions, and attitudes. When they left, I found I was once again feeling God's presence when I thought about church. And as I basked in my oneness with Him, I discovered a unity that I know was there all along. Now, though, the Christ was helping me see it in new and more glorious hues. And this view was changing everything.
Those women weren't kidding when they told me God is working in my life.