My friend, John Alexander of the Church of the Sojourners in San Francisco, is home with the Lord now. He still speaks to me, though, through these words about the church–what I call the church of the heart, or an “allelon community.”* This quotation comes from his book, The Secular Squeeze. (Wipf & Stock Pub -February 28, 2005)
…When God came to be among us he didn’t come as a mathematician or a scientist. He came as a story teller… And he told stories people could live. At bottom, the Judeo-¬Christian tradition isn’t a list of rules or a set of scientific theories; it’s a big long story… But Jesus didn’t stop with stories; he also gave us a way to authenticate them… he told us that you tell whether a story is true by the lives of the people who tell it. You judge a story by its teller. You will know them by their fruit, he said. A good tree bears good fruit, a bad one bad fruit. If the people telling a story love each other and live together with depth and grace, then their story is true. If they don’t, then their story is silliness– or worse. A good story enables people to lay down their lives for each other and become one. To put it in Jesus’ own words, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. A few chapters later he prays that his followers “may be one… so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” A story is authenticated when the people who believe it go to the cross for each other. …Notice that Jesus doesn’t require belief in his story simply on the basis of authority… evidence mattered to him: here’s how people will know that you are my disciples, here’s how they’ll know that I’m from God—that you love each other.
*Greek word for “one another.” Pronounced al-lay’-lone.