Last semester someone asked me, “What is your denomination?” I responded “I don’t have one.” Then someone else chimed in “Oh, I’m non-denominational too.” Although I understood what the person was saying about being non-denominational, I was referring to something different. I say this because even being non-denominational denotes having a denomination. In the past I never put much thought into claiming a denomination because I was never given a breakdown about what a denomination was. I remember my grandmother mentioning being Baptist so I thought, I must be Baptist too. Then my family began attending a Pentecostal church so I then thought, well maybe I identify with being both Baptist and Pentecostal. THEN I began to question, “Which denomination did Christ associate with?” I searched and searched and searched and I still have yet to find one.
As disciples of Christ we must be sure that we are exalting the qualities Christ has equipped us with. We ought to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13-16). How can we effectively exercise our roles if we are too focused on who is Pentecostal and who isn’t? As we talk with others we are always categorizing ideas whether it be things we can identify with or things that are distant from our experiences. When a person asks another person their denomination it is to compare and contrast. Basically, do you believe what I believe or do you believe something different? If they didn’t care they wouldn’t ask. Either there is a common interest because the individuals share the same denomination or the individuals are a little (or a lot) different because they don’t. I was surprised to see thousands of denominations and sub-denominations. I thought being Christian was enough.
The foundation for our universal interest should be the desire to be after God’s own heart and to do all things that are pleasing to Him. When I think of denominations I automatically think of division. Once we ask someone a question and they give us an answer, we sort their answer to make sense of it and to accumulate it to our memory. I am sure everyone has their own personal reasons for choosing to associate with specific denominations but I challenge everyone to think about what makes a Methodist different from a Lutheran and both of them different from a Presbyterian? There is only one God. How can there be thousands of segregated denominations serving the one true God but each with their own set of beliefs? What does it mean to be a different type of Christian? Or for two individuals to be Christian but to believe different things? God is the same God today as He was yesterday and the same God to me as He is to you. He won’t tell me to believe one truth and tell you to believe another. He is a consistent God, never changing ( Malachi 3:6). There is a space of confusion somewhere and I know for sure that our Father is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33) . I suggest that to prevent ourselves from falling into the pit of confusion that we each be aware of what is causing the misunderstanding. God’s Word doesn’t contradict itself so the contradictions and the disagreements are something stemming from a different spirit. Test the spirit by the Spirit.
Clearly, the opposite of division is unity. Let it be our goal to unify in the name of Christ Jesus to be about our Father’s business. As we prepare for Christ’s second coming we need to become one body. Although you may be part of the arm and I may be part of the leg, I need you as much as you need me. Of course with Christ as the head, the Master. We are the Church. If we have arms, a torso, and feet–how can we walk without our legs? Or how can we have every other piece but no patella (knee cap)? There is no such thing as missing a big piece or a small piece–God doesn’t halfway do things so we must be whole. If we have our eyes set on the Lord and His plans then everything will fall into place. Don’t allow the confusion and disjoining of the enemy to weaken your testimony. Get out of titles and get into Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:12-27 (NIV): ” 12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.”
15 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. 16 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.17 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? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
Romans 12:5 (NIV): “So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
1 Corinthians 10:17 (NIV): “Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.”
Ephesians 3:6 (NIV): “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”
Ephesians 4:12 (NIV): “12 To equip His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
Ephesians 4:16 (NIV): “From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
Ephesians 4:25 (NIV): ” 25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”
Ephesians 4:4 (NIV): “4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
Ephesians 5:23 (NIV): “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior.”
Ephesians 5:30 (NIV): “For we are members of His body.”
Colossians 1:18 (NIV): “And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy.”
Colossians 1:24 (NIV): ” Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His body, which is the Church.”
Colossians 2:19 (NIV): “They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.”
Colossians 3:15 (NIV): “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”
Romans 12:3-5 (NIV): “3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
Lets not spend so much time trying to identify and distinguish differences and similarities between denominations when we ought to be studying and digesting the Word of God. As long as Christ is in one’s heart, He can do His business. I encourage each of you to focus more on the mission of God rather than the mission of whatever denomination you associate with. With every denomination I have encountered there has been some type of discrepancy with the Word. Not only are the denominations causing division but they are also contradicting each other. Don’t get wrapped up in titles because it really only boils down to the fact that the Bible does not mention the Church being associated with any type of denomination. While denominations are separating Christians by their interpretation of Scripture, creeds, and statements of belief, God is telling us to unite as the body of Christ. Every denomination will tell you that they are the “true church” but they all cannot be right, so then who is wrong? Don’t waste time trying to figure it out. We can only get to the Father through the Son (John 14:6 ), not by being a Jehovah’s Witness or COGIC or Protestant etc. How can you not fellowship with your brother or sister in Christ because they don’t go to a holiness church like you do? Seek the Truth that comes from God and not from the denominations created by man. One God. One Church. One Baptism. One Faith. One Spirit.
So in conclusion, my “denomination” is everything aligned with the Word. I don’t need a fancy name or a huge building with the letters nailed across it. I am a Christian who believes that Jesus is my Lord and Savior, who died on the cross, resurrected, and is coming again (1 John 4:14, John 3:16, Matthew 18:7, Matthew 16:27). In simple terms, I reject anything that is not instructed and supported by God and His Word. We are the Church and the Holy Spirit dwells within us, what other definitions do we need?