We Are Not Alone!
Space, Planets, Extra-terrestrials - what could I possible mean claiming that we are not alone?
Well since this isn’t a conspiracy theory website, rest assured I’m not going to talk to you about aliens. Instead I want to speak to you about the diversity of the church.
I feel as Christians here in the western part of the world, especially as protestants, we only seem ever notice or pay attention to ourselves. Sometimes, some of us can even go as far as to call each other “Non-Christians” which, if I'm being perfectly honest, really saddens me. The disunity in the church has been a problem long before I became a Christian, but it’s still something that I haven’t fully come to terms with.
First, let me take you through my background of this subject. To be honest, when I was younger I was one of these “excluders” I am speaking of. I was quite bigoted, and as a protestant believer from Northern Ireland, I fell into a quite common belief regarding whether Catholics were believers or not, which included thinking the Pope was the anti-Christ. Trust me, I know, that’s crazy and I realise now that I was wrong.
Since my younger days, I have moved into a different theology and definitely broadened my worldview, I also have begun working in the areas of Reconciliation and Ecumenism. This is due to how I have experienced its transforming power, and my belief in how it could not only bring transformation to my nations, but also to the larger body of the church. And although I have come out the other end, still a vast number of Christians today believe that certain groups of other believers aren’t Christian, or even take it to the level I did and believe that these groups are forces of evil.
Now, what makes someone a Christian?
I’m sure there are many answers to this question and for some the list many be longer than others. For me I think it is easiest to first take it back to the bible.
In one of the most famous quotes in the bible, Jesus Himself says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeS in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”.
At this point for me the argument is pretty much wrapped up as ten times out of ten I will take Jesus at his word. In my mind, it comes down to believing and following; if in your heart you are believing and out of your mouth you are proclaiming his name, and in your life, you are following his commandments, Matthew 22:37-40, then you’re ‘in’. Now of course we have extra little nuances that other people can throw in there, but generally it isn't even individuals that get attacked, but collective groups, organisations or churches.
Therefore, we must examine the judgements and problems some of us find when it comes to differences in theology or practice. Obviously, no one has time to go through every major argument that has caused tension in the Christian Church, but still it’s important to speak on these relative topics.
A more modern-day example of this is the issue of gay marriage, and allowing gay people to freely ‘be’ a part of church. Progressive churches have recently been popping up all over, where they want to build a space for all to experience the love of Christ. From the old division of Catholic and Protestant to the modern issue of Traditionalist views vs Prosperity Gospel, and also the constant bashing of user-friendly churches such as Bethel, Hillsong and Elevation, we see separation everywhere. One that frustrates me personally is the problem most Calvinist theology-based churches have with anyone who disagrees with them, topics like atonement theory, the five points of Calvinism and the concept that man is inherently evil become doctrines that are immovable, and to disagree with this means exclusion in their minds from the Body of Christ.
Although it may be hard to hear, to exclude anyone from the body of Christ for any of these reason leaves us in a very dangerous position.
Insert only God can Judge me reference here. From Prosperity, to Catholic, from Messianic to Calvinist, to progressive, and all the way over to Bethel, we are one and He loves us all the same.
In Conclusion - the body of Christ is huge, people you don’t like are part of it, and we’ve got to learn to deal with that.