Denominational Differences vs. Christian Unity

 
 
Our world is full of contempt for Christians. It’s sad how disliked we are. It’s even sadder that that we dislike ‘each other’.

It’s so aggravating how we treat each other of different denominations. There is no absolute one correct denomination; though there are many that think they are the only way. News flash: Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life. (John 14:6) Not a denomination.

I think there is deliberate silence and ambiguity on certain subjects in the Bible because we are all very different human beings. (Revelation 22:18-19) The Old Covenant in the Old Testament was all about legalism and religion. The New Covenant in the New Testament is about freedom and love. The Old Covenant was demolished by Jesus; we no longer are bound by sin or laws. But does this mean that those laws no longer apply? Not necessarily. (I am not saying that we need to make animal sacrifices to God; however we may have to make sacrifices in other areas for God: career, family, hobbies, etc.) What’s good for one Christian is not necessarily good for another. (Romans 14:14) Certain practices in Christianity differ among denominations. But what does the Bible say about these differences? We (the church, aka- all denominations) should join together in unity to serve God. (Romans 14:17-19; Romans 15:5-7)

This New Covenant means that we don’t have to follow the old ceremonies and traditions. But it doesn’t mean we have to ignore them, either. (Colossians 2:16-17) However, we need to know the difference of why we may continue to follow the ‘old ways’. If it’s to draw you closer to God, then by all means, do it. (Romans 7:12) But if it’s because you think the act itself is drawing you closer, then you’re missing the concept of Christianity. Who we worship, not how we worship, is what matters. Christ is all we need, and He is the only One you are held accountable to. If we have Jesus, then we have what we need to know and please God. Following rules or observing rituals and acting ‘religious’ will not earn our salvation. Our discipline and rule keeping doesn’t determine our salvation; the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection do. (Galatians 2:15-16) (Colossians 2:20-23) We don’t have to do anything to earn our salvation; but what we do should be done in truth and love for God. (Colossians 3:23)

All things are created by God (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16) and everything God created is good. (1 Timothy 4:4) Therefore, we shouldn’t be condemning how others enjoy God’s gifts; we should be asking for a blessing on His gifts to us, and thanking Him for all of them. We should be enjoying these gifts He’s given us; using them to bring Him Glory and Honor and Praise. (For example, food is a gift from God, but gluttony is abusing this gift. Enjoy your meals, but don’t over indulge in the treats.)

We get so caught up in everyone else’s business that we lose sight of our own business—which is our personal relationship with Jesus. You answer only to Him; no one else. (Romans 14:12) Make sure you’re worshipping and honoring Him to the best of your ability. And while you answer to no one else, no one answers to you, either. If a fellow ‘brother’ worships differently than you, that’s between him and God.

Conversations of these differences are wonderful. They spark intrigue, research and ultimately a deeper growth in your relationship with each other and with God. Don’t shy away from them. (Besides, you should always know why you believe what you believe). (I believe different denominations are a great way to find where you are most comfortable in your worship and relationship with Jesus; so long as you are in a church that teaches from the Bible—and allows you to ask questions for clarification—then you’re on a path to grow.) (My personal example is ‘chatter’ during a sermon. I’m okay with an ‘Amen’ or two when the Pastor is preaching (and think he needs to hear it as much as we do) but when it becomes frequent and interrupting, then my concentration on the sermon falters. I don’t think it is wrong when someone is compelled to speak out, but it, more often than not, turns me off and tunes me out.) But don’t condemn others for not agreeing with your beliefs. (Romans 14:13) The church (aka- all denominations) should be working together in unity to teach the world about Jesus, and His love. If we can’t first love our own brothers and sisters in Christ, how in the world are we going to love non-believers? (Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26) If non-believers see our division and disagreements as walls in our unity, why would they want to be a part of that? Our condescension and condemnation needs to stop. We need to show a unified front to the people that need Jesus and don’t know Him. (Romans 14:17-18)

(This is not to say that when a fellow believer is blatantly disobeying God’s Word (adultery, homosexuality, etc.), we need to hold them accountable. This discussion is for the ‘ritualistic’ differences between denominations (clothing, music, food, etc.)).

We welcome your views and conversations to these subjects. (Please be courteous and respectful of others.) Conversations are great. Even differences are great. We are all different parts of The Body; but we are One in The Body. We need to remember that as One, we must work together, not separately. There’s only one goal: bringing people to Christ.

Romans 14:21”…Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right.”
 

Perfection


Perfection. We all seek it. But we all have different ideas of what ‘perfection’ is. For instance, the idea of a perfect day to me is coffee and bible study—alone. Then a lazy day curled up on the couch with a good mystery book or romcom movie on the tube. To some- that sounds boring; to me—relaxing. But some days, my perfect day idea consists of lounging in a pool or (preferably) on the beach (after my coffee and bible study). (I’d like to note that I recognize both days involve me being lazy… maybe because it’s few and far between that I get complete time to myself that has no real requirements of things that need to be done; or maybe it’s that I need to work more on my faith walk (Romans 12:11)) And I also admit, that when I get a ‘lazy day’, I am often left feeling incomplete and unsettled. So, why the inconsistencies? Because ‘perfection’ is just a perception; there is no true concept of ‘perfection’; except Christ.

And even considering Jesus, and reading His Word, we still don’t know the true meaning of His ‘perfection’. (If we did, we (Christians) wouldn’t disagree on so much of what is and isn’t in the Bible).) All we can do is continue to grow in our faith, and narrow our widened path towards Christ. Paul was a ‘perfect’ example of striving towards ‘perfection’ aka Christ. (Philippians 3:12-14) He acknowledges that he isn’t ‘perfect’ like Christ, but he’s striving to be more like Him daily, focusing on ‘forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.’ He doesn’t look back at his past mistakes (and boy did he make some!); instead he looks forward to what God has planned for him now and in the future. In other words, don’t dwell on all that you’re not or all that you’ve done wrong. Concentrate on who you have become and what is yet to be. You are forgiven of your failures and sins. (Amen!) So move on with your faith. As you strive to become more obedient to Christ, you mature in your walk. It’s this spiritual maturity that Paul was referring to when he taught ‘perfection’. (Philippians 3:15-16). Trying to live the ‘perfect’ Christian life is exhausting, and can leave us feeling discouraged and worthless; complete opposites of what we should be feeling with Jesus in our hearts. Jesus came to save us from condemnation, not to bring doom and gloom in this already dreadful world. Faith is all we need to be made righteous with God. (Romans 3:22, Philippians 3:9) It is through His grace alone that we undeservedly receive His gift. Therefore, if He can forgive us for any and all things we’ve done and said wrong—we don’t need to try to impress Him with ‘perfection’; of which we will never attain. All we are expected to do after receiving Him into our hearts is to continue to grow and mature in our studies and understanding of His Word and spread the gospel and His love. We will never learn it all (that’s in the Bible). But we can live our lives out to what we have learned and live up to what we know thus far. We can strive to ‘perfect’ our ‘perfections’, and grow out of our ‘imperfections’.

Jesus is a heart condition. He wants to change our hearts to be filled with only love; love for Him, love for others and even love for ourselves. If He can forgive our sins, why shouldn’t we forgive ourselves? ‘Perfection’ is what we strive for, yet will never achieve. But His perfect love is something we’ve all received, without having to do anything for it. Continue to grow and understand and learn and mature; never quit running the race (2 Timothy 4:7-9). Never quit growing or learning; but never let them be obstacles to your growth. Persevere in the race (Hebrews 12:1) towards ‘perfection’. But don’t get so caught up in ‘perfection’ that you lose the perception of what it is you’re really trying to achieve: to be Christ-like.