Every church no matter its size and denomination has different traditions or ways of doing things. There might be major differences in some churches such as some might be classed as more charismatic and some as more traditional. But I wonder whether giving these labels or any sort of label can be helpful.
I have been part of and attended many different denominational Churches including Baptist, Anglican, Salvation Army, Methodist, Catholic, Free churches and Pentecostal. There were many differences between these churches: some might have put more emphasis on traditions, some would have said that traditions are not helpful but they developed their own traditions anyhow from my point of view. Some churches focused more on ministry and the spiritual gifts but were not as accepting or loving as others perhaps. Some churches might have put their focus on loving and accepting others more but were not as open to the Holy Spirit and to change. Why am I writing about these and am I trying to pick out different churches faults? The answer is a simple no, what I would like to explore and present is how various denominations may put barriers up for reaching the fullness of Christ and how breaking these denominational barriers could help us reach out to the world and each other hand in hand. I am not saying that some churches have not already recognized that we all need to work together as the body of Christ so that the gospel may reach to the end of the earth but I do wonder whether there could there be more to it.
Recently, I visited a church leader in the Philippines who referred to all Catholics as non-Christians and said that they were taught not to read the Bible so that’s why there is corruption and lies among them. He even called the Pope the Antichrist. I spent quite a while with some Catholics afterwards and one of them referred to other Christian denominations as other religions and separated herself like if being a Catholic meant something different to what it means to be a Christian. However, I know that many of them had a living faith but still some of their traditions were not based on Biblical principles but were human made, yet this is all they knew and were brought up with. I don’t want to pick on one denomination only but I feel I need to spend a bit more time on it as there are many countries and billions of people who belong to Catholicism, furthermore throughout attending various churches together gatherings, most of the time Catholic Churches were not present, yet there are many Catholics who are thirsty for knowing the fullness of Christ. I feel that we need to put more emphasis on praying for the Catholic Church. Just imagine what could happen if the Catholic Churches had a revival and its members were on fire for God and left their human traditions behind and instead of listening to human voices learnt to listen to God’s voice instead? But couldn’t we say this to our own churches as well?
If we are looking at other churches and focusing on what they are doing differently, we will then find plenty of differences and may even find plenty of faults. But wouldn’t it be more helpful if we did really see each other as THE body of Christ and instead of picking on each others’s differences we would support one another and learn from each other? I think there is a beauty in all of us being unique and understanding different glimpses of who God is and how we worship this incredible God in various ways who made us all different and gave us diverse gifts and abilities. Even the Bible tells us that ‘Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.’ 1 Corinthians 12.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
We need each to build each other up, to love and challenge each other and to learn from one another. Every church, every Christian, every single person is equally important. Would Jesus look at me or you differently just because we go to a different church or perhaps think differently on certain subjects or would He encourage us to humble ourselves and serve and love each other as He has loved us and humbled Himself on the cross for us first?
One particular denomination couldn’t have got it all perfectly right and others didn’t. Jesus is bigger than a box and we can only get glimpses of His amazing sovereignty on this earth. Just because we have got a preference to one worship style perhaps, it does not mean that it is the only right worship style. When I think of being in heaven with our heavenly father, I can only just imagine the awesome worshipful atmosphere where none of us will argue over what worship songs we should be using, who is allowed to preach and lead, who will lead the prayers, whether we should put up our hands when we worship, when we should stand up and sit down etc…We will be on our knees and will be united and in awe of our Creator and all of our voices will become one. Wouldn’t it be more helpful if we were working towards this while we are on this earth? I wonder how much more attractive our faith would be to outsiders if we all worked together in bringing God’s Kingdom on earth. Why not learn from each other and instead of sticking to our own way of doing things be open to change so that we may experience more of the fullness of Christ? Why not start talking about each other as if we really were brothers and sisters and treating each other with that love that is also able to challenge, inspire and go an extra mile for the other? Maybe then the world may see more of a living example of who Christ really is and his overflowing love for each and every confused human being.