Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34,35)
There are so many divisions in the church. My husband dislikes the concept of denominations. I think that more and more I am understanding why this is. I am not as opposed to churches clustering together around a particular set of doctrines and beliefs, and if denominations actually had accountability to them, then they could at least make that boast. However, the longer I’ve observed different denominations, the more they seem to me to simply be a means to dividing Christian brothers and sisters. People get so wrapped up in their affiliation. I have groaned more than once at the title of the book, “The Baptist Faith and Message 2000,” asking myself what happened to the Christian faith and message? It isn’t that I can’t be sympathetic with someone trying to make sure that good doctrine is taught in their churches, but that I get more frustrated at the “I am Baptist” attitude. I mention the Baptists by name only to make a point because this attitude is prevalent among more than just the Baptists. I could just have easily said, “I am Methodist, I am Lutheran, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Assembly of God, Church of God, …” and the list goes on and on and on.
SOME PROBLEMS THAT ARISE FROM DENOMINATIONALISM
With a denominationalistic mentality, people tend to forget and forsake fellowshipping with Christians who are not members of their church or at the very least their denomination.
“Witnessing” can go from evangelism to church recruitment.
Many churches refuse to cooperate with churches outside their denomination even for the common good of reaching out to their community.
Some people come to trust the doctrines and creeds of their church/denomination so much that they fail to study the Scripture for themselves.
WHAT THE SCRIPTURES SAY
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:10-13)
Let’s not always look to see what our distinctions from our brothers and sisters in Christ are but our commonalities. First and foremost we all serve the same risen Savior and our citizenship is no longer tied to this world! It’s time to look at the big picture. The body of Christ is much larger than our specific center of worship, larger than our denominational affiliation, and extends beyond the oceans that divides countries. There is nothing wrong with being a part of a church that has a denominational affiliation, my point is that we can’t be so caught up in our affiliations that we forget that first and foremost we are part of the body of Christ.
“So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12:5)