Have you ever drove around your city or town and discovered how many different “flavors” of Christianity there are? Have you ever counted the number of churches you pass by driving down the road? Or wondered why there are different churches right across the street from one another, sometimes even three or four? Have you ever wondered if it’s even biblical? Well, that’s exactly what I’ve been thinking about this week. The other day I drove across the town I live in and counted 13 churches. All different denominations or sects of denominations. Some were pretty old, some were brand new, a couple were being built. I even noticed that most of there signs were almost the same. The name of their church (usually no less than 3 or 4 words) with a marquee below it that had a phrase with little to no depth in the statement. Some were charismatic, some were conservative, some were contemperary, and some were old school. Some were closed most of the time, except Sundays, others were open during the week.
So, I started asking myself “Is this biblical?”. What I found was no, most certainly not. I kept going back to John 17 where Jesus prayed to the Father. He prayed for His disciples and for future believers.
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.John 17:20-23 (NIV)
Jesus prayed that we would be brought into unity; for us to be one as They are One. He also told His disciples “They will know you are My disciples by your love for one another.” (John 13:35). So, I had to ask myself this one question: “When Jesus prayed for perfect unity, what did He mean? Did He mean unity with our fellow brethren who have similar belief systems? Or did He mean unity, as in, no matter what our different belief systems are that we would love one another in perfect unity?” I believe it’s the latter. It breaks my heart to see so much division in the Body of Christ. From what I’ve seen, most denominations are generally the same. They believe that Christ died on the cross for our sins, they believe in the Trinity, they believe that Christ is coming back. What causes splits usually isn’t these fundamental beliefs. (Though, I’m sure some have split over the Trinity, end times debates, and the like). No, what causes these are normally little disagreements in doctrine; in interpretation of Scripture. For example, Pentecostals believe in the manifestation of spiritual gifts, speaking in tongues, prophecy, the presense of God, etc. But the Church of Christ beilievers don’t. Evangelicals believe that our sole purpose for being on earth after getting saved is to “win” more people of to Christ. Baptists believe in legality. There is even division amongst different denominations. Like some Baptist believe in predestination, some don’t. Some churches use Holy Water, some don’t. But most of these disagreements are, in my mind, small. So, where’s the unity?
I believe, that if we all just let all these little “details” go and just focus on Christ, I believe many will come to unity. The same unity Jesus prayed for 2000 years ago. If we would just lay down our weapons, our little disagreements, at the feet of the cross, much good will come to the Body. I’m not saying that these are bad things by any means. I love spiritual gifts, evangelizing, praise and worship, and the like. But those are just “its”. They aren’t Christ. Christ should be our main focus as believers, not gifts, laws, commandments, doctrine, preachers, authors, or buildings. If we focus only on the gifts and not on Him, what do you think God would call that? Giving your life and energy to something besides Him? Think about it.
Is He sufficiant? Is He not enough? The best gift he could ever give somebody is Himself! Wow, and if you truly love Him, you already own the greatest gift of all! Praise God! Please don’t take this the wrong way, I love the works of God, I love saving the lost, giving the the needy, going to big-budget praise and worship concerts, listening to a good teaching. But again, these are only “things” and “its”, they are only meant to bring Him glory. They aren’t the main focus, but instead they are things that happen automatically once Jesus gets a hold of you.
Also, when you read the bible how many Churches were in each city? 5? 10? 20? 50? No, usually one or two, depending on the size of the town and the number of believers in each town. But of course you could say “Well, some cities have millions of people in them, so of course there’s alot of churches.” Ok, but were the churches of the new testament completely seperate from one another? Or were they all unified? They were all, essentially one church. It’s known that Paul would gather money from the other churches to help the poor and needy in Jerusalem. They weren’t competing with one another for more “members”.
Christ is our Head. We are His body. Why are we throwing His right arm over here, His toes over there, His leg there…? So please, dear Christian, don’t brush this observation off. It’s a common plague in the Body today.
I would most definatly like your opinions on this subject readers. If you read this blog, please don’t leave the site without leaving a comment.
Bless all of you who read this.