• Karen Pennington

Agape Love Crosses Religious Boundaries

I recently had an incredibly life-giving conversation about beauty, integrity and the power of story with Sierra Melcher, publisher at Red Thread Publishing and a life coach through intergral-women.com. That conversation was posted today as part of "The Story Behind the Story" author interview series on Sierra's "Integral Women" podcast.


Of all of the interviews I have given since publishing my book, An Anointed Mess: Discovering the Daily Adventure of Grace, this was one of my favorites. It also almost didn't happen. I feared that the theological differences between Sierra and myself could present too large of a hinderance to the message that we each wanted to share.


I was wrong. Unlike myself, Sierra does not stand on a platform of religious preference. She instead works to elevate the voices and stories of women everywhere, regardless of their background or current life situation, including religious belief. To use Sierra's own words, Red Thread publishing is:


"...an all-female publishing company, supporting women, in every step of the writing & publishing process to empower & elevate the voices of women around the world. BECAUSE EVERY STORY MATTERS. Writing & Publishing intentionally accelerates personal & professional growth."

While promoting this kind of conversation between different perspectives appeals to me, it differs greatly from my own personal mission. As an evangelical Christian I feel a strong call and conviction to share the love of God, whom I have come to know and believe as the one true God, pointing specifically to the essential work of Christ and the ultimate guiding truths of the Bible. From my perspective, Sierra's messages seems to promote any (or perhaps most) systems of belief that come from a place of personal conviction and integrity. I just want to promote grace through Christ alone. And yet we agree on much. While acknowledging our theological and ideological differences, we simultaneously celebrate the high emphasis we both places on some truly important things. We both honor and seek to elevate people's voices. We both value integrity. We both encourage people that joy, beauty and value in life's journey can be found right in the midst of our struggles and imperfections.


As we spoke, I could sense that Sierra truly honored my voice and story. And while I did not feel the need to hide my faith, nor did I feel pressured to defend myself, convert people or win them over to my way of thinking. My interaction with Sierra reminds me of the first and second rules of all Christian living, as stated by Jesus Christ himself in Matthew 22:37-40:


“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”


Conviction and conversion are God's job, not ours. Our first, greatest and most foundational command as Christians is to love, not to make people agree with us. I still believe in the power of our witness. But the demonstration of true, active love and acceptance for others will speak greater volumes than any argument we will ever win.


Click Here to hear my interview with Sierra Melcher, of Red Thread Publishing, as part of the Integral Women Podcast.

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