When I grew up I was proud to be Baptist. In fact, I was so proud that I was secretly glad I WASN’T a Methodist or Presbyterian. So proud that I was even more proud that my church didn’t do events with those other denominations. So proud that when I went to a community multi-denomintional prayer gathering I was blown away by how how the other denominations’ preaching, singing, and worshiping was just wrong.
I am glad I am not in this boat anymore. I love the Church. And I believe she has the potential to change the world.
So why doesn’t she act better? Why is there so much in-fighting and back-biting? Why are there disputes about pews and carpet and flowers and the color of paint used on the walls?
Denominations are powerful organisms. Bands of a collective group of like-minded people around a tenant of Christianity that has the power to bring people together on a large scale in order to effect change.
When used properly, denominations can help feed a starving country, advocate for a change in policy, or fund new church starts in our own backyards and around the world.
But, when used in a poor manner they can distract, anger, and create a hostile environment for those who love Jesus and ultimately end up reflecting an extremely negative image to the world.
So how do we keep the good and get rid of the bad?
JESUS IS THE ANSWER.
His grace is enough. His love is pure. And His Church will thrive no matter what we do. Yes, we can be horrible examples of Jesus followers. But the world can’t hold on to this as the excuse to not follow Him.
The answer is unity and diversity. It’s okay that people around the world are Baptist or Methodist or Assembly of God or Non-Denominational (which ironically is basically a new denomination). It’s okay to support house churches or people just gathering to do life together and share what God has done in their lives. It’s okay to be a missionary or a stay-at-home-mom or a CEO or a janitor or a celebrity or a homeless person.
Because in all of these things that we are or claim to be, only One Thing truly matters – and that is Jesus. It’s at His name that every knee will bow. And it’s in His arms that we will end up. And it is Him that will ultimately be our eternal leader.
So let the light fade on the good and the bad of denominations. And let the light of Jesus shine bright and pure to us and through us and into the world. Let’s be an advocate for Him and everything He brings – love and peace and justice and grace and mercy.