“I bless God that in Malaysia there are so many denominations. I’m an Anglican since I was a kid. I love to go mission trips with the Methodist church. I admire the Baptists passion for the Word. And the powerful worship by the charismatic churches. I practice some of the Romans Catholic church spiritual disciplines. These are not perfect churches, but the Lord of the church is. I consider myself belong to the denomination that worship God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I (desire) to be with Christian groups that fear the Lord and keep His eternal word – the Bible – with their life, talk and walk. This is my denomination!” (Richard Angelus)
“For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all” (Ephesians 4:3-4, NLT).
We must acknowledge that we belong to one another. Everyone who belongs to Jesus is a member of our family, a co-heir of His grace. Just as in a normal family there are some members who get along better and have more in common with each other, so it is in God’s family. In our earthly families we don’t deny someone is our brother or sister simply because they are different from us. Neither should we do that in the church, for we are members of one another (read Ephesians 4).
I remember telling a friend that there was one group of Christians I could never work with or be publicly identified with. I felt that their doctrine was so bad and their evangelistic practices so poor that they were a disgrace to the Lord’s name. It would have been embarrassing compromise for me to be identified with them. I went on to tell my friend that I believed they were Christians but thought they were very wrong and I hated what they stood for and the way they expressed their faith. They weren’t stealing, lying, or denying the deity of Christ, but I just ‘knew’ their superficial practices were hurting the Lord.
My friend told me I had a problem, and it was pride. What a shock! I thought I was so righteous, so biblically sound in my beliefs and practices. After the initial indignation wore off, I asked the Lord to show me if I was wrong. Immediately I began to think of how much Christ loved me in spite of my many sins and failures, to the point of welcoming me into His family and giving me His name. If the Son of God was able to identify with me, a member of the sinful human race, why did I think I was unable to identify with these other believers?
Ironically, the more I got to know the people in that particular group, the more I liked them. My pride had blinded me and kept me from accepting them and what they had to teach me. Perhaps our prejudices against other Christian groups reflect our blindspots – the places where we are weakest and most need them to help us grow.
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There is only one church. However, judging from our behavior one would think that we seriously believe that when we get to heaven God will divide us into different sections so we can huddle together within our little group or denomination. Worse still, some behave as if their group will be the only one there. But when we do get to heaven we will all be one, so why not get a head start and begin getting to know Christians of other denominations and groups right now? Let’s lay aside our sectarianism, fear and pride, and reach out to one another – after all, we belong to one another.
It was Count Zinzendorf of the Moravians who taught that God does not reveal all his truth to any one person or Christian group. He believed that God had distributed knowledge of biblical truth to all groups so that we would be dependent upon one another for balance and protection. If we could really grasp this insight, especially those of us who are leaders, our attitude towards one another would be very different. Think and pray about it.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.