“What do you mean?”
“I mean, are you a Christian?”
“No, I am a Catholic.”
(I have actually had someone tell me this.) WHAT?!?! Ok. Let me set this all straight. There are Jesus believers and followers and there are non-Jesus followers and/ or non-believers. The second group (non-believers) would consist of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. The first group would be all Christians—Catholics AND Protestants. Then you say, well, “I am Lutheran.” “I am Baptist.” “I am from the Church of Christ.” “I am from the Church of God.” “My pastor is so and so.” What?!?! What does that have to do with anything?
1 Corinthians 1 10 I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters,[c] by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. 11 For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. 12 Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,[d]” or “I follow only Christ.” 13 Has Christ been divided into factions? Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? Of course not!
Were you baptized in the name of Paul? NO! You were baptized in the name of CHRIST! Be united! Be one! Let there be harmony. PLEASE!
How have we messed that up? How is it that Satan has us competing for people to enter and fill our churches? How is it we strategize different ways for us, (members or congregants of a particular church, to come together), host events to promote our church and hope others flock to it? Did I miss something here?
I went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic in 2012. Towards the end of my trip, I was asking my translator about his faith and where he went to church. He said he didn’t go to church. I was taken a back. I asked why? He said there wasn’t a church for him to go to. I was perplexed. He went on to explain he was Presbyterian and the Presbyterian church closed. What? The Americans came over on a mission trip (they happened to be from a Presbyterian church) and he accepted Christ with them. So, to him, that meant he was Presbyterian. When they stopped coming and/or stopped funding a local church they planted, it closed. In his eyes, he had nowhere to go. Now, mind you, there were Catholic churches and other denomination churches, but no Presbyterian. Do you see how the missionaries missed the target here?
We are called to be Christians (not Methodists, Lutherans, etc). We are called to live lives that draw others into the kingdom. The ‘kingdom’ is not a church building. Kingdom work is right in your neighborhood! Be friendly! Be kind! Be loving and compassionate right where you are. You are a follower of Christ! (Not a follower of pastor so and so.) Let us feel compelled to engage in authentic, genuine relationship with those around us (in our work place, in our neighborhood, at the restaurants we frequent, etc) and through those relationships we will share love and hope. Research says the majority of Christians do not have relationships outside of their church community. WHAT?!? How can that be? We must, yes, we must, get out of our churches, small groups, and church friend groups and do life with others. They will know we are His disciples by our love…by our actions.
Now, I know there could be some flack from this. I am fine with that. I am fine with it because I am confident in my relationship with Christ. I believe in what the Word says and that we are called to be one. One in heart and mind. We can go to different churches; we can practice our denominations differently. We can all be pointing people to Christ (not to our church.) We can all be engaging in genuine relationships outside of our church clique. We are to build each other up, grow in our own personal relationship with Christ while reaching out to others.
How do we reach out? We just live life! Seriously! Just be genuine to everyone. Let Jesus shine through you!