“John said to him, “Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is for us.”
Ever ask yourself, “why are there so many Christian denominations?” When I came across the above verses during one of my studies it stopped me in my tracks. It actually helped me with something I had been wrestling with for a long time. I often asked myself that if we all believe in the gospel message (Acts 8:12 “But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ”, they were baptized, both men and women), why is there not just one Christian denomination? If you Google just two words, “Christian Church”, you will get over 35 million hits. We differentiate ourselves by particular beliefs and convictions that we associate with and through that association various people come together and agree to meet. Then they split over a difference of opinion and form another group and over time another division arises and so on and so on.
I liken the various denominations to the World Cup (maybe an over simplification): all the players are playing the same game but they wear different jerseys and represent a different country. They all play from the same rule book (the bible). All teams are trying to win the World Cup (be in the kingdom). The ball (Christianity) is kicked about by both teams each trying to out do the other. However, for the 22 men on the pitch battling, there are another 80,000 in the stands and billions more watching on television every move they make. The teams are so focused and intent on wanting to win (be right) that they forget they are being observed. Every dirty play and flared temper is taken in, analyzed, re-run and reviewed by those observing.
We are no different with our various Christian denominations. We war against each other in the name of Christ and those who are watching, i.e. our children, colleagues, friends, family members, neighbours, people in other cars, etc., are deciding whether or not they want to be a part of this. Are they saying, “If this is what being a Christian is all about then I don’t want to have anything to do with it”? Let us all remember that we may be the only bible some people ever read.
Our fellow Christians are not the opposing team that we have to triumph over; rather, it is our own pride and self righteousness that we need to overcome. May our actions reflect the fruit of the Spirit and may we heed the words of Christ above, “for he that is not against us is for us.”