It seems like everywhere I look lately I see articles on unity within the church. That subject has always been one that is near and dear to me, having been to churches from many, many different denominations in the past. It seems less and less the case lately, but I remember a time when there was a very strong theme of “we’re in an you’re not” in many of the churches that I had attended. In other words, many of those churches claimed that members of THEIR denomination were heaven bound and members of other denominations were not. A careful reading of John 14:1–7 *should* be enough to correct that thought (and the fact that FAITH IN JESUS is the sole determination of who’s in and who’s not is a VERY common theme throughout the New Testament)–the bottome line is that as followers of Jesus Christ, we are ALL heaven bound. It doesn’t matter if you’re Baptist, Presbetyrian, Roman Catholic, or Pentacostal. If you’ve put your faith in Jesus that is all that matters.
And it is THE common denominator in all of the Christian denominations. In fact, I love the imagery that Jesus uses to describe this relationship in John 15:1–7. He states that HE is the vine and we are branches. This is such a rich picture because we not only draw spiritual nourishment from Him, but we are all connected THROUGH Him. So why all the fighting? As the father of two beautiful daughters I get it on one level. Each of them has their own personality and their own way of doing things–and sharing a room is the source of many rather boisterous “discussions” of cleanliness and personal habits. But at the same time it grieves me when the girls do that. After all, we’re a loving family so why can’t they just focus on what is important and learn to live with the minor differences? I imagine God feels the same way sometimes. Just because a certain church believes something that is not related to the ONE thing that matters doesn’t mean that members of other churches should view members of that church or demonation as “evil” or anything other than what they are: a child of God.
So why not set aside our differences? The Apostle Paul suggests in 1 Corinthians 11:16 that there is no room for contention in God’s church. Jesus himself states that a house divided will fall (Matthew 12:25). Instead of discord and contention, we should be interacting with each other in patience and love. Who knows, we just might find that those denominations that we see as “outsiders” just might be able to teach us a thing or two that helps us as individuals build a deeper relationship with Jesus–and that is ALWAYS a good thing.
And at that, I will leave you with Romans 15:5,6: “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”