Friday, April 18, 2008

39,000 Piece Puzzle

A small town near my brother's home has 3 Reformed churches. First Reformed, Second Reformed and "Smalltown" Reformed. This town has a population of about 1,800, why do they need 3 Reformed churches??? Could they differ that much in doctrine??? Can't they see how much more effective they would be if they joined together??? It used to really, really bother me.

The standard answer as to why there are so many denominations/congregations is that satan creates strife to prevent the work of the Kingdom from being accomplished. We get caught up in whatever little soap opera is going on around us in the congregation and take our eyes and minds off of Christ Jesus. It happens over and over.

I don't know why Smalltown has 3 Reformed churches. Maybe there were very significant disagreements over doctrine. Maybe there were issues with the character of the pastor. I can only guess. What I do know for sure is that Christ is victorious no matter how many denominations or congregations are formed. The work of the Kingdom continues to be carried on and, in the case of Smalltown, they have 3 Reformed churches carrying on the mission - preaching the Word, baptizing, sharing communion, praying, worshiping and praising! Alleluia!!

According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity there are 39,000 Christian sects in the world today. That's an awful lot of people I have to convince that I am right. ;-)

What I am trying to say is that if you are looking for the differences you will easily find them. It takes real skill to find the similarities - and to see the whole picture. Like the stained glass image of Jesus, it takes many pieces to make the whole. The Lord will sort it out in the end (Matthew 13:47-50).


Milehimama said...

The Lord WILL sort it out in the end... unfortunately, He tells how he's going to do it:

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
Matt 25:31-34, 41

Sue Bee said...

Hmmm...I don't know if it is "unfortunate" that we know how judgement will commence or not. It is kind of a glass half empty vs. a glass half full situation.

On the one hand, knowing our ultimate fate at judgement will be instantaeous (no time to plea bargain) is scary.

On the other hand, being a sheep and knowing our Shepherd is always watching out for us is hugely comforting.

Excellent illustration of what I was trying to convey. Thanks for commenting.

Also see Matthew 13:24-30, the parable of the weeds. It also illustrates that final judgement is the Lord's and not ours.

Unashamed said...

In Kitchener-Waterloo where I live, there is an LCC (ie. LCMS) church right across the street from and ELCIC (ie. ELCA) church. I mean DIRECTLY across the street from each other. I often wonder what people outside the church must think of that.

Sue Bee said...

LOL! That must be fun to watch on Sunday mornings.