Our Common Ground
Denominationalism. It’s not my favorite word. On several occasions I’ve felt myself pushed and pulled by this word and the underlying cold war that sometimes lies behind it. As humans, we seem to be forever picking sides and amassing verses like weapons.
At one point in my life, I was faced with so much denominational strife that I cried out to God saying I would rather remain voiceless than enter the fray. I had been in my family room praying from a weary place and trudged upstairs only to come face to face with one of those flip calendars with a Scripture for each day. The verse printed there spoke straight to the frustration and to the heart of the issue – so much so that I quickly memorized it so as to carry it forever as a check for my own heart.
The verse was Jeremiah 9:23-24:
“Thus says the LORD: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me…’”
It was a beautiful moment that brought me back into plumb with the heart of this whole thing. It isn’t about boasting in what makes us unique and allowing those particularities to blind us to the gift given to someone from another stream. It isn’t in grabbing onto one element of Christianity and screaming it from the housetops, no matter how true it may be. It all comes down to coming into deeper relationship with God, to understanding and knowing Him.
The ugliness that I often associated with denominationalism was largely quieted when I heard my pastor, in gentle tones, describe the diverse denominations as fellow soldiers who are simply on a front different than our own. I can appreciate any fellow believer who confesses that Jesus is Lord, when I see the Body of Christ this way. We are called to advance on different fronts, hold the line on different fronts.
We have a common enemy – and it is not our fellow believers. Let’s not fall into the temptation of thinking we need to fight for our front to be the best and only front. That’s not what it’s about, Friend. It’s about a beautiful Savior who invites us to fall more in love with Him daily. At its core, it’s about relationship. And it is out of the overflow of this love relationship with the Lord that we are empowered to love our brothers and sisters in Christ.
“And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.” 1 John 4:21-5:1