Recently, I had a friend ask me to explain the differences between my denomination and her’s. My first reaction was to hold back a small giggle. Both my friend and I are a part of congregations that are actually non-denominational. I attend a small congregation that meets on Sabbath, and is not a part of any organized denomination. My friend attends a pentecostal style church that meets on Sunday, and is also not a part of any organized denomination. So, I sort of found it funny that my friend did not even know that her congregation was not a “denomination.” I think in her mind she thought her “denomination” is “Pentecostal.”
Over the years, I have regularly attended, been a member of, or visited many different church denominations. I have learned a lot in my journey in and out of churches. My parents were saved in a Nazarene church when I was a baby. As a teenager we became involved in a United Methodist Church, as an adult my husband and I attended several different non-denominational churches, some Southern Baptist churches, and even the very Pentecostal church that my friend attends, for a short time. In most of the churches, I have attended over the years, I have found people hungry for the Lord, truth, and a love for their Savior, Jesus Christ. I have found many, many sincere brothers and sisters in the Faith. I have also come across a lot of social “Christians.” People who attend a church for the social aspects of it. I have found people who are good people, but have never met Jesus Christ(or as I now call him, Yeshua my Messiah.) The truth is there are lots of churches, there are lots of differences, there are lots of similarities. But what matters??????
When my friend asked me her innocent question about our churches, I knew what she really wanted to know. First, she wanted to know if I understood the Gospel, that there is only salvation in the Son of God, Jesus (Yeshua). She wanted to be sure I hadn’t got mixed up in some crazy teachings and lost my way. Secondly, she seriously wanted to know what is different about how my church, and her church walk out our faith in God. Because my friend, wants to know if there is something more, something she hasn’t learned yet. My friend wants to grow in her faith. My friend also wants me to grow in my faith. So, she wants to share how she walks out her faith with me too.
THIS IS IMPORTANT!!! SO LISTEN!!!!
My friend is not trying to get in a debate with me, she is not trying to convince me of how I am wrong, she is JUST LIKE me. She wants to grow in her relationship with God. She wants me to grow in my relationship with God, and she wants us both to grow in our relationship with each other. My response to her question can change us both and bless us both, or it can destroy our friendship and become a curse on us. So, how I respond matters.
(This is true for all of us, we must listen to our friends, we must answer in kindness, we must not assume things that were not said, we must offer grace and clarity when needed.)
So, how did I answer my friend…..
I said, “Our churches have more in common than they are different. We both believe that Jesus Christ (I used the names she is familiar with.) is the son of God, and one with God. We both believe that He was perfect and died for our sins, and rose again. We both believe He is the ONLY way to an eternal relationship with God. We both believe the whole Bible is True. We both believe that the Bible has the answers for our lives. The difference is how we choose to apply those truths. My church, we choose to obey the commandments of God, as best we can just as they are written in His Word. So, some things that are different is: we don’t eat Biblically unclean food, we observe the seventh day Sabbath, on Saturday, we wear tassels on the side of our clothes to remind us of God’s Ways, and we celebrate the Holiday’s in the Bible instead of the Catholic holidays.”
Like most people when I said this to my friend, she sort of looked surprised and said wow that isn’t really that different. She is correct. All believers are actually on the same journey. The journey to Truth, the journey to abundant life through Jesus Christ, the journey to peace and joy in our Savior. We can encourage each other to keep on moving forward and seeking after Yehovah God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Because we each have a long road ahead, and there is no need to push down a fellow sojourner. The path is narrow that leads to truth so don’t push someone of it into the woods where they may get attacked or lost. Instead, share your journey and listen to theirs, we can help each other. And remember there is only one thing you can take with you into eternity, relationships.
The only eternal thing in this world is the people, so make meaningful, eternal lasting relationships.