Reverend Ryan Kiblinger is a doctoral candidate for a PhD in the area of Christian catechism. He and I have known one another for a while now and we have come to engage in a handful of intellectual spats over the years. It is clear that am very much out of my intellectual league when I am in his presence. It is also clear that he and I do not agree on a number of what many might consider to be "critical aspects of what it means to be Christian". And, to be clear, every time I see him, I rejoice in our interactions and friendship.
After a heated bit of conversation at a meeting of laity and clergy around the area I live (this meeting is called "Annual Conference"), Ryan gave me a hug.
He and I spoke with one another and I thanked him for his kind words of support. Then Ryan said what I am not smart enough to come up with on my own and was the best part of my whole three day experience. To paraphrase Ryan:
Christianity marked by not in how we agree but how we disagree.
The best part of my annual conference experience was being affirmed by someone who I disagree with and being reminded once again that they will know we are Christians by our love.
Thank you Ryan.