As you drive through most any American town, you see a variety of churches sporting names such as Nazarene, Lutheran, Baptist, Wesleyan, Church of Christ, Church of God, Assembly of God, and so on. The Church today is divided up into hundreds of denominations and many subdivisions within those denominations. To many, this is very disheartening, and understandably so. I so wish that the church had followed better, the words of Jesus in John 17:21, when He prayed that we all would be one.
Even while presented with the reality of a multitude of denominations, however, it remains our responsibility to “endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). How do we do this? By remembering three things: 1) there is a great deal more that we agree on than what we disagree on; 2) most of the things that we disagree on are the peripherals of our faith; that is, the (dare I say) less important matters; and 3) we (the various denominations) strongly agree on the most crucial points of doctrine; namely, the person and nature of Christ, His sacrificial death on the cross, His resurrection from the dead, salvation by grace, etc. It is by focusing on these three key ideas that we are able to celebrate our oneness in Christ, despite some differences in belief and practice.
“We reach our hands in fellowship to every blood-washed one.” This has been the motto of the Church of God (Anderson, IN), of which I am a part, since its inception almost 140 years ago. That statement underscores the fact that, though we may disagree on some relatively minor points of doctrine, we gladly join in fellowship with all those who have received Jesus Christ as Savior.
It has been said that John Wesley had a dream in which he appeared at the gate of hell. He cried out, “Are there any Presbyterians in there?” “Yes,” came the answer, “a great many.”
“Any Church of England members?” “Yes, lots of them.”
“Any Baptists?” “A large number.”
“And, are there any Wesleyans?” Again the answer came, “Yes, many of them.”
Disappointed, especially at that last reply, Wesley next dreamed he was standing at the gate of heaven. He repeated the same questions. Each time he received the same troubling answer: “No, not one!” No Baptists, no Church of England members, no Presbyterians, and no Wesleyans!
“Who, then is in heaven?” Wesley exclaimed. “We know nothing here about the names you mentioned,” came the reply. “The only name that matters here is CHRISTIAN. We are all Christians here.”
Give your heart to Christ, for He came to save you from your sins. And join a Bible-believing church, that you may grow in your faith and serve the King of kings and the Lord of lords.