By David Hasey
There are times when we have epiphanies in our lives. I had one in college, at a time when I was very parochial regarding my faith. The faith of almost everyone who wasn’t of my denomination was suspect.
I became involved with Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship during my freshman year in college, becoming one of the leaders of the group the following year. One day when I was thinking about the group and our desire to reach out to win and disciple students for Christ it struck me that our executive team was made up of a Baptist, a Methodist, a Presbyterian and a Lutheran.
The faith of almost everyone who wasn’t of my denomination was suspect.
Although from four denominations with very distinct differences, we were simply following Jesus–to win and disciple students for Christ. It was a transforming time in my life as I found I could never look at Christians from other denominations as I had before.
I was associated with six different denominations before becoming a Lutheran nearly thirty years ago. In all of them I have known people with a very deep faith who were following Jesus.
Although from four denominations with very distinct differences, we were simply following Jesus–to win and disciple students for Christ.
I have seen the strengths and weaknesses of several different denominations, including our own. This has made it hard for me to be excessively denominationally oriented, though I greatly appreciate the Lutheran stance.
I recently have had a new epiphany. Over the past couple of months I have been reading several books on discipleship and Christian character. In my reading I keep coming up against the idea that in our modern, secular, anti-christian world, Christians and churches of all denominational backgrounds need to pull together, cooperate and pray for each other as they each strive to bring Jesus to the world.
Reading Carl Medearis’ book Speaking of Jesus, and listening to his talk (you can find part of that here) intensified my thinking. Too many times it is “Jesus and”. Too often we present a Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, or Methodist Jesus, etc.
One of you says, “I follow Luther”; another, “I follow Calvin”; another, “I follow Zwingli”; another, “I follow the Pope”; still another “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided?
I long for the unity that Jesus desired for us in His high priestly prayer in John 17.
The next day’s sermon on our tendency to “divide” and “defend” reinforced these feelings. Instead of embracing each other, we divide. Instead of rejoicing in our commonalities, we defend our own turf, ending up in Lutheran, Catholic, or Baptist ghettos, refusing to interact with each other. And again Jesus weeps.
I have known too many individuals from other traditions who have a deep faith in our Lord. I want to embrace my Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist brothers and sisters who are also in faith simply following Jesus. I want to be able to say to them “I am with you as we together seek to be disciples of Jesus.”
Since I seem to be getting hit with this from several different directions in a relatively short period of time, I believe God is trying to get my attention. I’m not certain yet where it will lead, but want to be open to his leading.
I am with you as we together seek to be disciples of Jesus.
I know that I’m tired of living in a ghetto. I’m tired of weeping. I’d rather have tears of joy in embracing those of my own and of other denominations who are fellow disciples of Jesus.