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.”