Friday, November 16th, 2012
The Church (Part 7: Denominations)
Is Christ divided?
1 Corinthians 1:13 (NKJV)
And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.
Mark 3:25 (NKJV)
How we worship is a question that has divided God's church for millennia. One 21st century estimate of Christian denominations is 38,000 (World Christian Encyclopedia).
Unquestionably, God loves diversity. Earth's life forms are 'about eight million seven hundred thousand species, give or take 1.3 million' (Science Daily*). We might conclude that God also loves diversity of worship--not preferring one over the other, 'For there is no partiality with God' (Romans 2:11).
Of denominational creativity, I say cool. I believe God agrees, because Jesus came to free us--not only from sin and death, but also from legalism. Religious legalism is 'strict adherence to the law, especially the stressing of the letter of the law rather than its spirit' (World English Dictionary).
Consider Matthew chapter 23 as speaking to the Christian church. It's a terrifying thought, but God's words are never just a history lesson. They're applicable today and invite reflection. Comparisons can be made between Jewish leaders of His day and some Christian leaders of our own.
Within His lengthy condemnation, Jesus says: 'Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe... and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith' (Matthew 23:23).
As we judge each other, are we 'Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel' (v.24)?
Consider the issue of church arrogance: 'And they said, 'Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves' ' (Genesis 11:4). It was called Babel. God's response?
'Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech' (Genesis 11:7). Towers look a lot like steeples. Has the arrogance of the Christian church caused within it the same confusion?
To Be Continued...
* Science Daily article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110823180459.htm
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the The Church series.