Explore
Follow Us

What Does It Mean to be Interdenominational?

Interdenominational means “relating to more than one religious denomination” but does it really? Do we relate to other denominations? Are we deeply connected to those followers of Jesus whose beliefs are different than ours?   We are born into a polarized society. We are represented by pol…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Interdenominational means “relating to more than one religious denomination” but does it really? Do we relate to other denominations? Are we deeply connected to those followers of Jesus whose beliefs are different than ours?
 
We are born into a polarized society. We are represented by politicians who fight out their differences on the front pages of our newspapers.
 
And in Jesus’ day, the politicians and religious leaders were just as polarized. They were always trying to tempt him into playing the game of “who is right and who is wrong?” Of course, Jesus would have none of it.
 
Religious people would ask “Who sinned that this situation exists?” Or “Do you back the Roman government by paying taxes?”
 
And Jesus would deftly sidestep their traps and point to the real issue at stake. He understood that his mission was not to bring people into a right set of doctrinal beliefs, but into right relationship with God and one another.
 
Jesus, as he was about ready to be killed, passionately prayed to the Father that, “they be one as you and I are one.” (John 17:21) He called us as his disciples to bring the body of Christ into unity. 
 
This wasn’t just a little thing to Jesus – it was at the core of his message. And I think he would say to us, “The main thing is to make the main thing the main thing.”
 
The Lord was speaking to a megachurch pastor about this issue in his quiet time. The pastor heard God say, “In denominationalism, people gather when they agree and divide when they disagree. But in my body people gather around families. They say, ‘that’s my father, my brother, my uncle and so forth.”*
 
How many times has the Catholic church split in its history? And how many times has the Protestant church split?
 
Of course the answer is that the Protestant church has split thousands of times. Originally Protestant meant “pro testament.” But it soon came to mean “protester.” 
 
The good news is, yes these may be our roots, but they don’t need to define us. Instead, we can be the answer to Jesus’ prayer for unity. We can choose to focus on relationship, on the connectedness and unity that you see in a body.
 
When we say we are inter-denominational, why not commit to setting aside differences? Why not focus on being followers of Jesus and doing what he taught and did?
 
Gal 5:6 says,  “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
 
I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to focus on peripheral stuff. I’m going to focus on essentials. If you have trusted Christ as Lord, I want to join you in spirit. I want to find a way to be in unity with you. 
 
This may require my repentance, it may require a greater level of humility. And I’m good with that. That’s the faith part of the equation. I have to trust God when I humble myself. He can guard my reputation better than I can.
 
How about you? What will it cost you to be the answer to Jesus’ prayer that his children would be one?
 
—————–
 

Comments (2)

  • A good word, Seth.

    I wonder if my private passionate certainty of belonging to the ‘highest’ “truest” expression of our faith might actually function like a prison… a staid aristocracy that contains and protects its own… distancing me from “rubbing elbows with the great unwashed, the teeming multitudes that make this dirty, chaotic, rough-and-tumble world beyond my pristine walls.”

    Do we protect ourselves and the dignity of our convictions by remaining separate…unwilling to go where what we value may be–not only misunderstood–but also demeaned? And by isolating to our own, do we keep our Lord’s last prayer the last night of His life from being answered? … He who left the aristocracy of heaven to step into the rough and tumble of unwashed earth… unafraid of rubbing elbows…unabashedly risking the heart-pounding, heart-breaking summons … knowing He would be rejected and scorned…. but utterly confident that “the truth burning in Him” would outlive and outshine every objection.

    • It’s a good thing to wonder. It’s a terrible thing to live one’s life in the ghettos of parochial faith. As for myself, I know that my natural comfort-seeking ways need to be challenged at least once a quarter if I’m to keep from getting spiritually sclerotic…

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Radical Living:

Receive updates on the latest posts as Seth Barnes covers many topics like spiritual formation, what if means to be a christian, how to pray, and more. Radical Living blog is all about a call to excellence in ministry, church, and leadership -as the hands and feet of Jesus.

Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



© Adventures In Missions. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy