CAMPBELLTON, New Brunswick, May 14, 2023 – When I was newly born-again, I thought all Christians were the same. I guess it was a hold-over belief from when I was an atheist, only instead of wanting to avoid all Christians (like I did as an atheist), I wanted to be near Christians and interact with them. I saw them all as my brothers and sisters, and I loved them all and accepted them all without question.
Then hard cold reality intervened in the form of denominational Christianity. Because I’d been baptised a Roman Catholic as an infant, I started attending mass at Roman Catholic churches shortly after my rebirth. God let me go there because it was what I needed at the time, which was a daily dose of scripture and to be around people who at least believed that he and Jesus existed. So, for three and a half years, I attended Roman Catholic churches pretty much every day, until one bright sunny winter morning, God invited me to leave. It wasn’t for me anymore.
I then found myself without a church to attend.
I tried on several Protestant denominations for size, but none of them fit. They all had carved-in-stone creeds that they’d recite and which I didn’t necessarily believe. To be honest, I’m not sure what I was looking for in a church in those days, but I was certain that when I found it, I’d know.
In my long quest to find a church where I felt at home, I’d take comfort in reminding myself that Jesus didn’t have a place to go to either and that he was even kicked out of his hometown synagogue. He kind of synagogue-surfed after that (like I church-surfed), using the local synagogue of whatever town he was passing through as a pop-up classroom to teach people about the Kingdom. But he didn’t identify as a Pharisee or a Sadducee or any of the other splinter groups that had formed over the years into quasi-denominations of Judaism, much like Christianity has splintered in denominations over the centuries. Jesus stood alone in God’s Kingdom, which is God’s Church on Earth.
God’s Church is also where I stand.
But Jesus didn’t bash denominations, and it’s important that we realize he didn’t. (I had to learn that the hard way, but at least I finally learned it lol.) He occasionally schooled believers on the fallacy of some of their creeds, like he schooled the seven churches in Revelation, but he didn’t bash them. Each group has a perspective that suits certain believers, and God lets those perspectives exist. In the same way, God allows the four gospels to exist, some of which conflict with the others. God allows conflicting details because how many demoniacs kept breaking their chains (was it one or two?) ultimately isn’t important: what is important is the core belief of believers.
Which brings me back to when I was a newly born-again believer and saw all Christians as my brothers and sisters. In those days, I made no distinction between Roman Catholic or Orthodox Catholic or Russian Orthodox or Anglican or Baptist or any of the now hundreds of denominations that identify as Christian. All I saw was my family of believers.
I know that God sees us like that, too. He looks on our heart, not on our creeds. He looks to see if we truly believe or just say we believe. God will know we believe because we’ll keep his Commandments and do as Jesus taught us to do. That’s how you can tell believers from unbelievers, not by the denominational church they attend or the things they recite while they’re there. If they do what Jesus taught them to do (love your neighbours, love your enemies, treat others as you want to be treated), then God knows they’re genuinely his children and he accepts them as such.
I guess I wasn’t far off the mark when I was newly reborn, thinking that all Christians were the same. All genuine Christians, at their core, are the same, as they all strive to follow God’s Commandments and live as Jesus taught them. Their rituals may differ, their stated beliefs may differ, but their core is the same, and that’s all that matters to God.
I wish that we, as Christians, could look past our differences of rituals and stated beliefs and get back to seeing each other as brothers and sisters of Jesus and children of God. We sorely need to come together as a family, so that we can do what families do, which is to love and support each other. But most of all, we need to come together as a family for the sheer pleasure of just being with each other and enjoying each others’ company, which is what God wants us to do. Like a good and loving Father, God loves family get-togethers more than anything else, which is why he’s planning a big party for us for when we get Home.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if believers of every denomination would just get together and worship God as believers rather than as Roman Catholics, Baptists, Anglicans, etc.? In God’s Church, which exists in the spiritual realm, that’s how we appear – stripped of our denominations, clad uniformly in clean white linen, and united by our love for God and Jesus. There are no denominations in God’s Church. I wish there weren’t any here in the earthly realm, either, but since there are, I wish we could look past them.
So this is what I pray: that before everything goes to hell in a handbasket (which it will, according to scripture), we’ll all get together as one family of believers, leaving our denominational differences behind and embracing and loving each other as the brothers and sisters we are, as the family God made us.
How powerful our witness would then be!