I’m reading a book called The Chronological Life of Christ. It puts the NT in chronological order. Our pastor gave it to us when we joined our church five years ago, and I’m still reading it! I did push pause on it a bit but Iove reading a section a day with the Spoken Gospel bible study I’m doing right now (go check this out – quick and thorough videos that show how every chapter in Scripture points to Jesus).
There’s a section in the book that talks about denominations and how we as people get everything so wrong.
How silly that we hide behind this or that denomination and believe that we are the “true” Christians. As if there’s something special about one group of followers who have accepted Christ over another. Even Paul is frustrated by this thinking in Corinthians:
“What I mean is this: One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?…For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”(1 Corinthians 12-13; 17-18)
I can taste poor Paul’s exasperation, can’t you?
How much do we hinder ourselves by living this way? I always wondered why the Christian church was so severed and other religions weren’t. Could it be because we are the true body of Christ and that Satan would love nothing more than for us to form “teams” that pit us against each other? How little we’ll be able to accomplish if we think “Well, can’t go over there and help out those Catholics. You know how they are” or “Don’t even get me started on the Free Will Baptist!”
It’s a shame we treat God’s sheep this way.
I think if we truly understand what Christ asks of us, that we just abide in Him so that Holy Spirit can course through us and we can be His kingdom here on earth, we wouldn’t even think about divisions.
The goal, ultimately, isn’t unity, but the action of abiding. We need to daily be focused on ourselves (not on who believes what), and when we each do that, we truly are God’s church that destroys all dividing lines.
As Paul says again in Corinthians:
“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”(1 Corinthians 1:10)
It was never intended for us to be a disunified church. It was intended for us to accept and share the Gospel. And the Gospel is this:
To accept Jesus’s free gift of salvation by confessing and repenting (turning from) our sins. We’re to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, a beautiful gift God gives us that shows our commitment to His kingdom and the beautiful covenant He’s made with his sheep. And then we go and find others and share the good news of Jesus, and if they accept, we baptize them and walk alongside them as then they go out and be light to the world.
We constantly abide in Jesus the vine, or we will wither and be cut away.
If we think we need to add anything on to that in order to be “real” followers, then at this point, we’re denying God’s Word.
And that’s blasphemy.
Denominations won’t be going away any time soon but neither will those baptized in the name of Jesus. And so those who understand what Scripture says about submitting to Christ and furthering His Kingdom will also be able to reach out across dividing lines in order to move the Kingdom forward.
I’m not saying we blindly accept the doctrines of other churches. I’m saying we can still work together knowing there’s a core belief among us: that Christ is God and died on the cross for our sins, taking our place when we didn’t (and don’t) deserve it.
Like the book points out: “True Christians of all brands make up the kingdom of God on this earth.”