Divided We Stand
Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Lutheran, Protestant, Pentecostal, Nazarene… The list goes on and on. This ever growing list of denominations has bothered me for quite some time. I’ve become upset with the church, and I have not approached this in a just way. You see, this is not a matter of denominations. My Uncle Gary Kinnaman once phrased it this way: “Look at this like a family. In a family you have different members. Each of these different members has different views and different interpretations on life and that is okay because they are still together as one body.” This statement rung true to me, and I began to think of my criticism of the church. I came to realize that this is not about a problem in difference of opinion or theology. Everybody will have different views and that is okay, but what really bothers me is that we don’t even appear to be a family anymore. I believe 1 Corinthians 1 can help illustrate this point.
The church in Corinth had become divided and I don’t just mean divided by beliefs. They would essentially follow someone and their teachings and they would strictly follow that person. In a sense, they had put up walls to other groups of followers. When I think of this scene I picture people yelling across their walls that they have put up declaring their way to be right. “Each one of you says ‘I follow Paul,’ or ‘I follow Apollos,’ or ‘I follow Cephas,’ or ‘I follow Christ.’ Is Christ divided…” (1 Corinthians 1:12-13, English Standard Version)? As I said before, different beliefs and different churches are not bad. Honestly they spur growth, but what I have noticed is that we have started to build up the same walls the Corinthians built up.
We criticize other churches arguing against “improper” theology and they argue right back. Some say “I follow John Calvin,” while others say “I follow Martin Luther.” Man I just feel like we’ve lost sight. Let me illustrate my point. The other night I was at a worship night in which a new building was dedicated to the Lord. We prayed over the city and had a night of absolute worship to the Lord. It was beautiful and it got me thinking about this subject of unity among believers. I thought of when Jesus prayed in John 17 for believers to be united as one. He asks this three times and it really had me wondering what that should look like today. Wouldn’t it look like pastors from other churches coming to dedicate a building to the Lord? That seems pretty united to me. Wouldn’t it be churches of different denominations uniting together in an effort to fight problems in the Phoenix area and even globally? That sounds like unity to me. Wouldn’t it be putting aside our differences and coming together in an effort to demonstrate to non-believers what the Bible truly says about unity? Now I don’t have all the answers to how to address this, but I know that our culture says division is okay, whereas I see in Scripture something totally different.
To close, I would like to take the family illustration given by my uncle and tie it right back into this. A family has different beliefs sure, but you know what…a family is a family regardless of those differences. They don’t go about life alone. When making important decisions and when living life we do it together. We are a family and it is about time for the grudges and the pride to fade away so we can finally be one again. It is time for this divided family to come together as one, united in Christ as the head of this body that holds us all together.
“Is Christ divided?” (1 Corinthians 1:13)
Blessings my friends.
P.S. This is not meant to give the answer for how this problem should be fixed. Rather, it is meant to demonstrate a serious problem and to call to action a people who are ready to see a change.