I know a doctrine sensitive pastor that believes the doctrines of his church are superior to other denominations. It seems as if every time films, programs and doctrines from other denominations come into our church we hear about differences in doctrinal issues. In my opinion, this practice may not be in the best interest for promoting the gospel message.
What I am saying is that the gap between denominations are already separated by differences. The majority of differences are in the way the gospel is presented to its members. I am grateful for such differences as they help me to do two things. One is to have a better understanding of Godís purpose and overall plan. The second is to understand where the other person is coming from and gives you the ability to come to an agreement with them.
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
Who can say that the differences in denominational doctrines donít have Godís overall approval and support? When we look at the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, each of the gospels were designed for a different audience. Each Gospel has a targeted audience that spreads the gospel message to people that may not have been reached otherwise. There are millions of people who do not interpret the bible the way you do just as the various denominations present the gospel differently.
Matthew speaks to the Jew, describes the coming King, the Redeemer and the kingdom of God. Mark presents Jesus as a Servant of God, speaks to the Romans, declaring Jesus to be a prophet who was mighty in deed and word. Luke was written to a educated audience primarily to a fellow Greek and represented Jesus as a Man and Christ as the savior of the world. John represents Jesus as God and was written to Christian to instill faith in the Son of God through whom God and man can become one. We should note that these books were written to different audiences but each presented Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. In addition, every denomination accepts the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as the word of God.
Because each of the gospels was written to a specific group of people it has spread the Gospel to untold millions of people. These differing views have accomplished their mission and continue to project Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the plan by which man can be saved from the coming wrath of God. For example, I learn more from the book of John while another person may learn more from Luke.
Denominations will always be around but lets consider the differences in how the gospel is presented is still a plan God is using. These denominations teach from the same scriptures, present the gospel of Christ like other denominationís do but they reach a different group of people who may not want or be able to understand Christianity by your church standards. How a doctrine is presented is not a matter whether the doctrines of your Church are more accurate but whether or not men and women are able to come to the knowledge of Christ.
Those who elevate their denominational beliefs are the same people that downgrade the beliefs of fellow Christians. They are ignorant that other denominations are necessary to obtain the goal of God to reach millions of people with the gospel. Consider this, are you showing the love of God when making yourself look better because your doctrinal beliefs are superior to other denominations? Or have
you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? James 2:4
If Christians are going to show love of God to everyone, they need to understand the doctrines of other denominations rather than shunning or opposing them? Understanding the doctrines of other denominations may be the first step towards the unity of Godís church and bring about the spread of the Gospel in agreement with other denominations. We also must consider that we may be criticizing God for using of other denominations to bring people to Christ. At the same time we may be listening to Satan and working in ignorance dividing the church and allowing Satan to conquer your church.
We can see many instances where Jesus completely devoted to his fatherís will. At the same time, lets consider the longest prayer of Jesus recorded that asked his father the following,
"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:20-23
The tactic of divide and conquer is not completely unknown. A prudent person would consider which side in the spirit realm gains the most from Christians bickering and quarreling over doctrine and the unity of the church. Personal comfort within strange doctrines and surroundings already cause division, but understanding the differences in denominations quenches the fire and helps develop new and stronger alliances.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18
Most churches conduct their services the same way every week. Still, there is a lot of apprehension during the first visit to any church because itís a total learning experience. However no one feels comfortable until someone in the church makes them feel loved and at home in that church. Remember this, the denominational doctrines are not as important as the people who put their beliefs into action and show the love of Christ to everyone.
Every church has one or more cliques, which is a comfort zone that people are not willing to compromise. The majority of cliques stem from a desire to worship God as a family while other cliques involve close friends and working relationships, but we seldom extend a hand of friendship to those outside their clique. Consider this, the majority of people that Jesus demonstrated the love of God to, had previous personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In other words he reached out to love those in need without knowing them or what they believed.
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34-35
Isnít it just as important to love the people that attend the church across town as it is to love those you donít know? Attending other churches gives you an opportunity to love your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. What kind of love are you showing to your brothers and sisters of another denomination by comparing their beliefs to yours? You have enough problems when the members of your church donít agree with the doctrines of your church.
We have all heard the expression lets agree to disagree. The purpose behind this saying is to form a way to be united in love, but is that the form of unity God wants? For me if I am in agreement with God I know it, but I also know that the foundation of my unity with God has to originate at the heart level. While I may not agree with God 100% I find that when I obey Godís commands I have his purpose in mind and Iím not banging my head against the wall to succeed in doing Godís will.
More often we seldom see our self as Godís servant, but as a person that loves God and doing his will. In the process we donít always consult God with our plans, ask for his guidance or blessing on whatever we are doing. As Godís servants our purpose is to glorify God. How do we serve the glory of God when we create a stumbling block by recognizing the differences between denominations?
We may want to consider that itís not important where a person is coming from, but where they are going to spend eternity. Itís not our place to judge people for what they believe or their status as a human being. As servants of Christ, our main task is to love God with our entire being love our neighbors as our self, knowing its not easy to love everyone God created and died for.
When we get down to brass tacks, how do you love people from other denominations when you are taught to be leery of them because their beliefs are off, different and faulty? How can we as Christians be united when we form a wedge of distrust in our mind that separates us from them?