Many times we think we are contending for the faith, but we are contending for our traditions or denominations. Now, we have Jesus and because we love peace, we don't flare up at each other too often, but what do unbelievers see when they are seeking truth? What denomination would the apostle Paul, agree with?
1 Cor 1:10-15 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos";another, "I follow Cephas "; still another, "I follow Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name.
So here we have the human nature rising up in the early church, and Paul squashing it quickly.I wrote
God had different plans for me though. I attended a Catholic High School for a short while and my World History Teacher had a great desire to evangelize his students. It pricked my heart. I then attended a Baptist church with my family, repented and asked the Lord into my heart. I wanted to go to church. At 15, I wanted to live for God. I asked the campus minister at my high school if there was service I could volunteer for, and when he found out I was not catholic, he frowned, but allowed me because my catholic friend would be with me. It didn't stop me. My friend and I attended Saturday mass on the weekends when we hung out. My family couldn't always make it to church, so I began to ask my grandmother if I could go with her. She went to a Methodist church. They didn't sing from the hymnals, but I saw their love for God. I ended up moving back in with my mother, and church stopped.
The first church I attended, after I completely surrendered my life to Jesus (many years later) had me thinking it was a non denominational church. There was no "First Baptist", "Our Lady" or "Pentecostal" attachment to it's name. It was simply "Living River". The pastor never preached to promote the denomination, and never put down others. He preached Jesus. I found out through nonchalant conversation, that it was part of a denomination, and was quite surprised.
1 Cor 1:30-31 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus,who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."
Jesus has become for us wisdom. If we have our bibles, and we read the life of the one we claim to serve, we will see that he honored tradition, but did not cause a stumbling block. He broke some cultural traditions to fulfill the Law so that we might be saved. He said his breaking of cultural traditions would cause a stumbling block to some, but it was because of the motives of their heart. Their heart was filled with pride. They would not step back and view the Son of God as one who was clarifying the law to them, instead they saw Jesus acting as one that knew more than them. Jesus warned that they were leading others astray, and would be judged for that.
Are we leading others astray when we promote only one way to preach the gospel, only certain approved translations of the bible, or denomination? There are people searching for God. Jesus said the harvest was plentiful, but the laborers are few. Why are there so few? Maybe it is because we are devouring each other.
Gal 5:15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye not be consumed one by another.
There are certain things you might feel are important aspects of a relationship with God, that your church has wisely taught. You don't have to get caught up in vain arguments or rules about how to be a Christian. Many times we are so concerned about teaching others how to be like us, we only attract the most conformable forgetting that is God who has the power to save, and it is through the grace of the Holy Spirit that turns sinners towards him. When we put so much focus on our traditions or way of serving up the gospel, we crowd out God with our rules.
Jesus gave a simple command to his disciples before he ascended to heaven.
He said in Matthew 28:18-20 "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth."Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Simply put, Teach what he taught. Look to the gospels how many times Jesus healed or was sought out by a gentile. How many times did Jesus take time to teach against the danger of those that honored rules of tradition. Compare what Jesus taught to what you believe about others.
These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings.
God has given us wisdom to know why divorce is wrong, or sexual sin of any kind is an abomination. We know that murder is murder, and we are to be a voice for the weak (in the womb). We know this because of the wisdom of God. These things bind us a brothers, but if we let the tradition of listening to certain music, going to church at a certain time, or membership of a certain denomination keep us at odds with each other, the world will not listen to us when we have to openly rebuke those that do teach a DIFFERENT GOSPEL.
Let your life of love and deeds done in gentleness attract others to want to emulate you. Jesus was attractive to the Samaritan at the well. He dealt with her in gentleness and it caused her to ask "what must I do to have this living water?" He did not give her a long oration about the Samaritans mixed belief system and how wrong they were. He gave her himself. He broke tradition to sit with a woman alone (and a Samaritan at that) and gave himself in love.
Did this prompt you to think maybe you have been wrong? That's alright. That is why you are still alive and well. Our walk through this life is a constant learning process to grow up into the likeness of Jesus. His word says that he disciplines those whom he loves. Part of discipline is teaching. His word also says you don't need anyone else to teach you. Ask God in prayer for his Holy Spirit to reveal his word to you so you can filter out those things which are the traditions of man that cause division more than unity.
Maybe you could invite your differently denominated Christian friend to a time of Prayer. Maybe you could reach across the table with an open hand and words of repentance for feeling or acting superior. You never know, it might start a revival.