DISCLAIMER: Electronic media makes it difficult to convey emotion. Please, please know that there is not one smidgen of anger contained in this post. As you read it, I hope you will hear my heart of love for the body of Christ. I believe this is an important conversation to have, and I invite you to enter in.
Would you pardon me while I climb atop my soapbox for a moment?
Stop it with all the denominational fighting! Just stop!
I grew up in the Southern Baptist denomination, and I am grateful for (most of) that upbringing. I learned about missions and Jesus and amazing old hymns and the beauty of an organ and piano and the order of service and the Doxology and Girls in Action and Acteens and Summer Vacation Bible School and ‘raise your hand if you read your Sunday School lesson this week’.
I also learned that women are not to be pastors and speaking in tongues is not actually an accepted thing and, dear Gussie, exclusivity. I think my Grandma might have had to be revived with St. Peter’s smelling salts when she stepped through the gates of heaven and discovered that there were Methodists, Church of God, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and many other people who affiliated with non-Southern Baptist denominations, or no denomination at all, right there in heaven.
I am not here to bash the Southern Baptist denomination. I really am not. My ‘letter’ is housed at the Southern Baptist church where I grew up, and I love that church and pray for it. Southern Baptist just happens to be the well from which I draw my experience. No denomination is perfect, and many of you might have a similar perspective about your denomination. But our time in Romans 12 today prompts me to step back with you so we can take a 50,000-foot view of the body of Christ and the scene that will one day be around God’s throne in heaven.
Let’s read these two verses…..
4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
You have a body: head to toe, inside and outside. It is a body that houses all sorts of organs, cells, membranes, ligaments, and muscles. Bones are connected by ligaments, tons of miles of blood vessels run all over your body, your brain is the control central, and your muscles allow you to walk and run. Your body is not just your brain. If you were only one big brain, you could not move or eat or kiss your sweetheart. If you were made up of only a pinky finger, you could not stand up.
Every part of your body is necessary to your physical well-being. Just let one part of the body malfunction and the entire body suffers in some way. Don’t believe me? Have you ever broken your pinky toe? Yeah! I rest my case. That pinky toe is important, people!
The same is true of the body of Christ, regardless of the denomination in which you choose to worship. If you name the name of Jesus Christ over your soul, you are a necessary and important part of the Body. Now, you may not like the way your toes look, but they are your toes and you must accept that and care for them because they are part of your body. So, let’s pretend the Baptists are the toes, the Methodists are the fingers, the Presbyterians are the blood vessels, the Church of God folks are the muscles, and our non-denominational brothers and sisters are the eyes.
Y’all, I am dying at all the exclusivity and condescension in the body of Christ. We are THE BODY OF CHRIST, knitted together in Him. We need those muscles and eyes and blood vessels, and even those toes and fingers. We need everyone who professes Jesus as Lord and stands firmly on the gospel in order to be a strong and functional body. We may disagree with Church of God folks about speaking in tongues, or the Methodists about sprinkling, but that does not give us the right to look down our noses at our brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus said that the world would know that we are Christians by our L-O-V-E for one another in the body of Christ.
Even when I attended a denominational church, I did not label myself according to that denomination. If you ask me which denomination I belong to, I will tell you that I am a Christian because that is the label that I want others to associate with my life. My ministry is a non-denominational ministry. I have spoken at churches from many denominations. I seek to write from a Jesus perspective rather than a denominational perspective because I believe it encourages unity in the body of Christ.
So, friends, let’s use grape juice and wine. Let’s use the KJV and the NIV. Let’s use musical instruments and sing a capella. If we are going to choose a hill on which to die, for the love of Pete, let’s let that hill be the gospel of Jesus Christ, not whether to sprinkle or dunk. Let’s show love to our brothers and sisters in Christ and unity of Spirit to the world, so that the world will see Jesus.
I’m off my soapbox now! I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post. Leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.