I’ll never forget the day that the children and I were passing by the local Baptist church, and one of my children asked me, “Now, what weird things do they believe?”
How could this be my child? I wondered. I had, on purpose, signed my kids up for things from different denominations and had repeatedly explained to them how each group has a special part to play in the Body of Christ. I encouraged them always to focus on our likenesses, rather than on our differences. In addition to the many projects they had in our own wonderful non-denominational church, I enrolled them in a Reformed home school group, had them serve meals at the Salvation Army, went to plays and special events at the same local Baptist Church and still they had taken on an, “us four and no more” attitude.
I suppose their response was somewhat normal for someone who has been born and grown up in the same non-denominational church their whole life. But I had taught them differently, and I expected more of them and from them.
After I picked my jaw up off the floorboard of the car, I answered in the most controlled voice that I could muster that if it weren’t for the Baptists that I wasn’t sure any of us would be Christians at the moment, because one of the Baptist church’s main emphases is evangelism and discipleship. I also reminded them how thankful we can be that the Baptists have held to the high standard of doctrine in their lives.
It was silent in the car for awhile. I suppose I was a little fiery in my delivery, but the said child had touched a nerve.
When I consider each denomination I see groups of people who have been given different assignments from God. Episcopalians have been given a literary assignment bringing forth great authors and theologians like C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle. Catholics have been given an assignment to remind us of the mystery that is Christ. Baptists have been given an assignment to go out and to preach the Gospel to everyone. The Salvation Army has been given the assignment to love the unloved, and to reach out a hand to man and heart to God. Methodists have been assigned to teach us a methodology by which we can better serve God. Pentacostals and Charismatics have been given the assignment to experience God physically and emotionally through signs and wonders.
Do I believe that every believer should experience a portion of each of these strengths? Absolutely! But no one could focus on all of them at once. And thus we have our differences.
The icon becomes idol when any one part of the body wants the rest of the Body to be just like it…How odd it would be if the Body were all knees or teeth! Madeleine L’Engle
Why not celebrate our differences? After all we would be ineffective without one another, and we’d look pretty ridiculous if all we were is a bunch of teeth.
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. I Corinthians 12:12