For those of you who don't know, there is a coalition of kids from around the country who memorize pre-selected book(s) of the Bible and compete over their respective knowledge of the biblical text on the regional level, at summer college tournaments, and at an annual National Tournament.
We call it Bible Bowl.
When I joined the Bible Bowl family in '08, I was not new to competitive Bible memory ( think AWANA) and I was excited for the chance to again learn God's Word, in such a format, with people of like mind.
Historically speaking, Bible Bowl is a product of the Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ and was started at a college of their affiliation, Lincoln Christian University.
Going into Bible Bowl, with my naiveté in hand, I assumed that we were all on the same page, theologically, more or less, and *Stone-Campbell sympathizers of varying stripes. (*the Stone-Campbell movement gave birth to the Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ)
Yeah, I was wrong.
I'm ashamed to admit that it took me 3 years and a Facebook account to realize that the Bible Bowl community is made up of all kinds of theological viewpoints.
We have Pentecostals, Calvinists, theological liberals, theological conservatives, and, Restorationists.
You would think in a gathering of Christians with such diverse theological views, and no one being asked to compromise or accept any certain creed, that chaos and strife would ensue.
Bible Bowlers come together and fellowship much like a family: we laugh, play around, compete, debate, pray, reflect, and, most importantly, we love each other.
But, how is this possible?
Bible Bowlers recognize that what unites us more important than what divides us: a mutual love and respect for the game of Bible Bowl and an even stronger love and respect for our Savior Jesus Christ.
So, what if the whole Church played Bible Bowl?
If everybody was involved in this awesome game in some way, couldn't we unite the Church?
Of course there would be some odd balls who'd go against the grain, but wouldn't most people jump at the chance to be a part of such an awesome group of loving people?
I hope that you, like me, realize that no matter how much I love Bible Bowl, this is neither a practical or possible idea.
Bible Bowl is a man-made creation and, as such, is not capable of uniting Christ's Church.
In fact, there is no convention, denomination, group, activity, creed or creation of man that is capable of uniting Believers.
If it is up to us, by our own abilities, talents, and resources to construct a medium for Church unity, I promise you that we will NEVER succeed.
But, thanks be to God we don't have to invent some scheme or plan for church unity, because He himself has already given us the basis for uniting His people.
For as Jesus is in the Father and the Father in Christ, we are to be in God.
And while the whole Church cannot play Bible Bowl, we have an even better basis for unity: our shared relationship with the God of Heaven, Creator of the Universe and Lover of Our Souls.
It is in our relationship with Jesus that true unity is found and, somehow, that seems very fitting.
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.