"It's all getting a bit nasty" - it's a phrase I've heard several times recently. Not about life in church (not at the moment, anyway), but about life in general....about our common speech, the sense of being part of society, listening to our political discourse and so on...."it's all getting a bit nasty". There is disrespect, there is anger and contempt, there is a dismissal of people just because of disagreement, there is, in our wider life in the church, a condemnation of people who have different views and convictions.
Of course we are never all going to agree. Of course there are different opinions - political, theological, personal; it's part of being in any society.
But it feels at the moment that disagreement inevitably leads to this dehumanising. It comes form the very top, and it is easily spread by the anonymity of social media.
And it has no place among us. Finding ways to disagree well, finding forms of communication that respect another's humanity, having and expressing attitudes to other people that assume the other's identity as created in the image of God, and deeply beloved by God.
Treating others like this - simply being nice, polite, respectful, kind - feels likes an act of defiance at the moment. Refusing to adopt the contempt, dismissal and separation that seems to be endemic is to stand against that which defies the Kingdom. It seems small. But it matters hugely - for it is to live in the Imitation of Christ.