That was long, long ago. But it’s an idea that has been a source of wonder to me for a long time. I grew up learning that Catholics “worshiped Mary” and heard anecdotes about how Baptists weren’t as good Christians as we were, from the pulpit, no less. Apparently there are levels of Christianity, and speaking in tongues puts you on a higher level, closer to God. And God-forbid you attend a non-denominational church, because those people are just backsliders, through and through. It was a weird “us versus them” mentality that really shouldn’t exist in the church. And it’s not an idea that solely exists in the Church of God.
There are hundreds of denominations (if not thousands) that make up the Christian church. It is evidence of the human nature of faith, that so many interpretations can be taken from one book. To be fair, it is a very long book. But as beautiful as that reality is, it can also create some ugly things. Some of the most spiteful things I’ve heard or read, have been spoken from Christian to Christian. All you need to do is read the comments on blogs covering the World Vision decision/reversal, to see the true vitriol that can be brought out by a difference in theological opinions. And if that’s the way that Christians treat each other, it’s no wonder that the percentage of American’s claiming “no religion” doubled over the course of 20 years or that millennials are leaving the church in droves.
It’s an environment where my faith and heart were questioned because I supported LGBT rights. Where my belief in evolution and advocacy for women in all forms of leadership left me feeling ostracized. Sometimes it just feels easier to step away. To take a breather and figure out if it’s really worth it.
In John 17, where Jesus is speaking to God, he says, “All the glory you have given to Me, I pass on to them. May that glory unify them and make them one as We are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be refined so that all will know that you sent me, and you love them in the same way you love me.”
If the church isn’t unified…. if it isn’t “one”, it’s not effectively sending the message that Jesus stated. And I’m sad to say that I don’t think the church is “one.”