And no, I’m not being a know-it-all. Actually, I want to be at the front of the line to admit that I DON’T know all the answers, and I KNOW not EVERYTHING I believe in my faith can be true. It’s simply not possible.
Why do I say this? Well, according to Wikipedia, there are 33,000 (yep – thirty three THOUSAND) Christian denominations in the world. Safe to say some of these denominations are separated only by the fact that perhaps one doesn’t speak the same language as the other. A very SAFE number to take into account might be 6,000. But even with that – SIX THOUSAND denominations of the Christian faith, all reading from the same book have found a way to have 6,000 different interpretations of what we would all agree is the inspired word of God.
How is that possible? How can we all be right? Very simple – we can’t.
Now, before anyone panics – this doesn’t mean one group is right and 5,999 are going to hell (as popular a belief it may be among some groups.) Most of the various denominations and independent churches will all subscribe to the Nicene Creed (Google it if you need to – the use of the word “catholic” is not a reference to the Catholic Church, Dictionary.com can help you with that if you need it).
Salvation is pretty universal within the Church regardless of the denomination. Romans 10:9 says “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Where we get into our differences are things like baptism, can women teach within the church, is Jesus returning before or after the tribulation, and will those who have been cremated rise with those from the grave at the Rapture. These are the NON-essentials of the Christian faith that sometimes we just can’t help but get into an argument about. Why do we have to WIN every argument? Why is it so important that I be right and YOU be wrong? You DO realized that that son of bitch Satan just LOVES it when we argue among ourselves don’t you? And like I said, it’s about the NON-essentials of our faith!
Now, some of them may hit you at a spot that you are more sensitive to than another. Maybe you don’t feel very strong about a baby getting sprinkled vs. being immersed as an adult, yet maybe it really bothers you that there are churches performing gay marriages.
Pick a topic, and we will find a way to disagree, as imperfect beings we have the choice to get along or not to, and for reasons that are hard for me to fully understand we just seem to be much happier when we have someone to pick a fight with. So before you get too caught up and proud of yourself for being RIGHT, remember that you’re almost certainly WRONG in some aspect of your belief. And just as quickly as you’re sure you’re right, someone will be there to TELL you that you’re wrong. The GOOD news is that we’ll all get together in heaven and laugh over who got it right and who got it wrong. I can just hear someone in heaven talking to another saying “Really? Your parents told you that if you grew your hair out long you’d go to hell? And you BELIEVED them? You silly boy!”
It goes back to a phrase I first heard decades ago and goes back to the 15th century at the time of the reformation: “In the essentials, Unity. In the non-essentials, Liberty. In ALL things, LOVE.” If we as Christians will all start there among ourselves, maybe it will be a little easier for us to express LIBERTY and LOVE for those outside the church who need to hear it from us.
And yes, part of me is feeling good knowing that I’m RIGHT about telling all of you that you’re WRONG thinking you are RIGHT and they are WRONG! Time for me to go get down on my knees!
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