In this new century, any credible answer to that question needs to be prefaced by what we cannot give. “I have no silver or gold,” says the apostle Peter, “but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” Perhaps one of the things we Christians no longer have to give, and probably never had to give, is a neat solution to every human dilemma. But we can give something more precious than solutions. We can offer visions of abundant life.
• We can offer a vision of charity in controversy. All the divisions that exist in society at large also exist in the church. Often we take that as an affliction; often it is. But it has the potential to be our glory as well. If we can embrace the kingdom of God—that is, an awareness of God as the only real absolute—we can show the world something beyond the tentative peace that grows from “understanding our differences,” namely, the peace that passes all understanding.