Last week I wrote about the importance of challenging your beliefs in order to grow stronger in the faith. To participate in that process, one has to be open and willing to listen and learn from others with different beliefs or ways of thinking. I think it is also important to remember that even though we as Christians might disagree on certain aspects of our faith, we are still united by Christ.
For the majority of my life, I have attended a Methodist church. Our tagline is “Open hearts, open minds, open doors.” We’re very “come as you are.” On the first Sunday of every month, the pastor invites everyone in the congregation to join in communion, emphasizing that our table is open to anyone who has the desire to participate — member or not — no matter their denomination.
For the record, I am speaking only of the four or five Methodist churches I have attended and can not guarantee this is true of every Methodist church.
I felt at home and comfortable in my church, and I became very familiar with the way things are done there. I looked forward to the congregation reciting the Apostle’s Creed and joining in an affirmation of faith every Sunday. I liked that my associate pastor was a woman. I was used to instruments in worship, and I loved looking around and seeing people dance or clap as we all sang, often loudly and a little off-key.
In other words, my home church felt very different to me than most of the churches I have visited since coming to Searcy, and sometimes those differences cause a little discomfort. But in Bible classes, I have actually found very few things that my home church and the Church of Christ disagree on. Ultimately, we pray to the same God and believe in the same Jesus as our savior. We read the same book, and we interpret a lot of it in the same or similar ways.
Although there are differences in the way we worship or the small details of our faith, we agree on the core of Christianity. We are all built on the same foundation, and that’s God. That shared belief in the core Gospels and love of God is what brings all of us together.
There is a line in the Apostle’s Creed that says, “I believe in the holy catholic Church.” Notice that “c” in catholic is not capitalized. It’s not a spelling mistake because it is not referring to the Catholic Church. This line refers to the belief that all Christians are part of one universal Church, regardless of denominational divisions.
I believe that Jesus paid too high a price for us to exclude people from our churches. I also think it is extremely important to remember that it’s not our job to judge. We can not deem anyone good, bad, right or wrong. It is not our place to say someone isn’t worth it or doesn’t deserve something. As Christians, it is not our responsibility to decide who is saved and who is not. Our job is simply to plant seeds, not to shove them into the soil or get angry when they don’t grow like we think they should. We are called to help those who are hurting, even if we disagree with their beliefs or lifestyles. Our job is to lift the fallen and rebuild the broken.
Despite denominations trying to separate us, we are all children of God who, together, make up the body of Christ. We are all one in his eyes, and we are all given the same command: to love God and to share God’s love with his people.