One Faith, One Body, No Lines

There is one faith and one body, but God does not see the denominational lines that we have drawn. Just because one worships at a church that has a book of doctrine (that you might or might not agree with) does not exclude that person from the body of Christ. Likewise, just because one worships at a church that does not have a book of doctrine does not mean they are automatically part of that body. A church without a book of doctrine, like the Churches of Christ/Christian Churches, still have a lot of unwritten doctrines that are extra-scriptural. God is glorified in the lives of faithful followers of His who might go to a Lutheran church or a Nazarene church just as he is glorified in the life of a faithful non-denominational Christian. The name on the building does not determine what is in the people’s hearts.

Everyone usually goes to the church that they think are doing things the best and have the best grasp on Scripture. But for pride and self-glorification, people argue that their sect is the best and put others down rather than try and build one another up. This is nothing new. It was happening in Corinth.

Paul addressed it in 1 Corinthians 1.
"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. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don't remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power."

Those who claim to follow Christ alone can be just as divisive as those who claim to follow Christ the way Luther did, the way Wesley did, or the way that any other human did. It is arrogant to think that we follow the Scripture alone without any influence from those who have paved the way for us. I read the Scripture the way that Alexander Campbell taught that Scripture should be read, that is a different way from the way that Martin Luther or John Wesley read it. But that does not mean that my faith is far greater than a Lutherans, a Methodists, or a Nazarenes. My intellectual pursuit of the faith might be different, but we will not be judged by our intellectual pursuit. Rather, we will be judged by whether we have a heart that is totally surrendered to God.

Isaiah 29:13 states:
"The Lord says: 'These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men."

Israel was God's people. There was no group that was more God's than them, but they were still out of step with God. Their title or ethnic origin had nothing to do with whether they were right with God; God wanted their hearts. Likewise, God wants our hearts, anything short of that is not enough. We can give him our hearts whether we are in a Catholic church or in the middle of the woods alone. The key to the healthy Christian life is that we realize nothing but a total surrender of our heart makes us right with God. There are acts of the faith that we will participate in when we surrender, but I do not think that God looks down and decides who has given him their heart based upon what church they attend or how they read the Scripture.

The law stated and Jesus repeated, "But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul."

Anything less than our whole being surrendered to God does not make us right with Him, not the name of the church we attend nor the lack of formal doctrines and creeds.

The sectarian lines that we have drawn in the sand wash away in God's eyes. Being part of one sect or another does not outweigh a heart that is totally surrendered to God. It is one of the founding principles of the Church of Christ/Christian Church that we are not the only Christians, we are Christians only. Too often we have turned that into: “We are the only Christians because we are Christians only” or "If you are not a Christian like me, then you are not a Christian."

So let us not be like those who divided the early church by claiming to follow Christ, Cephas, Apollos, or Paul. Let us follow Jesus with our whole heart, not being judgmental, and loving those that we encounter every day. Let us help everyone we encounter to take their next faith step, whether that is their first or the next one after a life of total surrender of ninety years.