What’s the first thing you think of when the word “prejudice” comes to mind? Skin color? Nationality? How about church denomination? No? Me neither! Until we moved here, that is. It never used to occur to me that I couldn’t be friends with someone, work with them, pray for them, or let our kids be friends if we didn’t go to the same kind of church. Does that sound right to you? Can you relate? I hope not. Because if any of what I just wrote sounds “right” to you… well… I will pray for you.
That is not how God designed the body of Christ to operate! Just like a human body, every part is *supposed* to be different and unique. Each part serves a different purpose… wouldn’t it make sense then that each part is different in and of itself? What would happen if your hand decided that it didn’t like the your stomach? “We’re made of different kinds of tissue. We don’t think alike, don’t do anything the same way, and I’m totally unimpressed with the “fruit” it leaves behind. I can’t be associated with that… it will ruin my reputation (of if your hand is very spiritual it would say “testimony” instead). I’m not going to help the stomach anymore. Not gonna help it get food, and not gonna receive any of the nutrition it sends my way either.” Ridiculous, right?? I know it’s a silly analogy, but just as silly is some of the stuff I see happening in the church down here. I am sure these things exist in the US as well, but I never witnessed it firsthand until we came here.
What makes a Christian? Is it the kind of church you attend? Is it who your parents are? Is it how good of a person you are during the week? I am happy to tell you, no it’s not! Thank God, your status as “Christian” is only based on one thing… the saving grace of Jesus Christ. I am a Christian because I have accepted His sacrifice for my salvation. Because I have chosen to follow Him alone. I’m happy to report that I have Catholic friends who say the exact same thing! I have Southern Baptist friends, Independent Baptist friends, Brethren friends, Presbyterian friends, Assemblies of God friends, and many other friends who are all as genuinely Christian as anyone. The denomination that your church claims does not make them any more or less holy than the next church. Whether they speak in tongues or not doesn’t make them more or less holy. Whether they are ruled by the body or by a single pastor doesn’t make them more or less holy. Whether they take communion once a week or once a month, use drums or sing all their songs acapella, believe in pre-trib versus mid-trib, or require baptism before communion… doesn’t make them more or less holy!
The ground at the foot of the cross is level!
1 John talks about fellowship. It says our fellowship is with the Father and His son, Jesus. If we are all in fellowship with Jesus, it stands to reason that we’re in fellowship with each other! The reverse is also true. If we are not in fellowship with Him, we cannot expect to be in fellowship with each other.
I’ve wondered so many times how much different the face of missions would look if we could all work together. There are actually quite a few missionaries around here! But everyone has their own thing going, and we don’t really work together. I think everyone would consider the other missionaries “friends” but why do we rarely (if ever) pool sources and energy and work for a common cause? Ps 133:1 says “how good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” Another verse in 1 John says that the world will know we are His disciples if we love each other. 1 Cor 13 is a passage we’re all very familiar with… it’s the LOVE chapter, afterall! In short, it says it doesn’t matter what kind of cool tricks I can do or special gifts I might possess. If I don’t love my brother, I’m just annoying.
It’s been a dream of mine almost since we arrived here to somehow encourage fellowship among the different denominations and missionaries here. I thought that, being a missionary wife, maybe that is the place to start! So I started a monthly brunch. Not only for missionary wives, but mostly for English-speaking women… who are almost all missionary wives here! I have one sweet friend and her sweet mama who came every month for 4 months. We had a great time eating the ton of food I’d made, talk for a while, then they went home. My 4th of July and Christmas parties have been a tad more successful, but still aren’t producing the result I’ve dreamed of. If you have any ideas for me in this department, I hope you’ll share them!
I can’t think of a better way to close than this…
“If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be… As it is, there are many parts, but one body…. so that there should be no division in the body, but that it’s parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is a part of it.” Pieces of 1 Cor 12