According to, "The Center for the Study of Global Christianity," there are over 45,000 denominations worldwide. 45,000 different logos to choose from. 45,000 religious egos, all claiming Jesus as their author and architect. But would Jesus, especially considering His prayer in John 17:21, confuse and divide us into 45,000 sects? Who created these 45,000 fences, as I call them? Is it possible they are all missing it? How does the average person, with precious little time on their hands, sort through or peel away all the layers of this huge onion?
Perhaps my journey through this confusing array of denominational racism, may help sift through the walls of partition and the religious fences that seclude us from each other and the Oneness God calls all of us to, "In Christ."
Denominational racism is something I was raised up in. As a Catholic, under my mother's religion, I was taught to have nothing to do with any Protestant, even though my father was a Lutheran. After all, we were superior to them and could not afford to be infected with their heresy. Yet as a young boy and teenager I could find NO DIFFERENCE at the character level between the Catholics and the Protestants. My Lutheran father in many ways was superior to the Catholic neighbors and church members I knew and grew up with. So, I threw out all religion and went in pursuit of success and was finding it.
At age 30, I was introduced to God's word by a conservative, Bible believing, fundamental Christian couple. Wow, what truth! Now I KNEW the difference between a Protestant and Catholic. But to my amazement the denominational racism only increased. An arrogance of knowledge now supposedly made me superior to my Catholic family, friends and heritage.
Humans always elevate some finite value, object, sect or mental assent to be, "The Answer." Whenever love of one's people, organization, truth, lifestyle becomes the destination, which then becomes our home plate, it turns into racism. This allows us to feel that we are, "The People" who have, "The Answers" and anyone not in, "Our Fold," is a fool, deceived and missing it. So often ideologies hide from their adherents; their ultimate need of total dependence is to be on God and God Alone!
God's grace is as much for, "Them," as it is for, "Us." God's grace doesn't belong to any denomination or sect. Nor do religious people deserve it more than irreligious. Idolatry in one's religion can be the biggest fence and the deadliest sin of the religious. I have been there on multiple occasions and know from personal experience. How about you?
My journey doesn't end there. I became a frustrated, arrogant, mentally converted, professed Christian with an un-subdued temper. Yes, I was the head elder! Yes, over a dozen people were baptized into our denominational church from our Bible studies. But behind closed doors, I had no power over my temper and I hadn't found that peace that passes all understanding. Have You?
So, Sally and I, like Abraham, packed up everything and move to the promised land, the wilderness of Montana. Only to find 4 other families of our same denomination living in the same Valley. We started a study group on unity and after six months could NOT agree on the definition of unity. Now within this one denominational fence were sub fences of differences. Diet, dress, music, recreation, theology, church organization, tithe, child rearing, church responsibility and a few others. We had sooo much disunity we all went our separate ways. More fences within the one, "Visible Denomination," of, "God's last day church." How God must weep as Jesus prayer goes unanswered!
Since then, 35 years have now passed. In that time God, has allowed Sally and I to visit, speak and minister in over 20 countries and in all 50 states. We have ministered in organized churches, home churches, independent ministries, self-supporting institutions, academies, colleges, nondenominational churches and numerous churches of other denominations. I would have to LIE to say that we have found, "A People," that exhibit the fruit of the spirit found in Galatians 5:20 which is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.
We often long to worship with people that truly, honestly love God with their whole heart and being more than themselves. As well as practically and noticeably love their brethren as much as themselves. Will someone please introduce us to them. We want to experience this weekly. We want to rub shoulders with them, to minister to them and to be ministered to by them. It's not that we haven't found individuals, we have, but they are truly a scattered flock.
What we have found are Fences everywhere! Fences, cross fences and barricades, whether that is in our church, the Assembly of God, the Baptists, the Charismatics, the Evangelicals, the Mennonites, the non-denominational, the Mega-churches or the small country churches.
If you have ever sat on a church board or nominating committee. Been in a church building project or church beautification committee for any length of time you KNOW that the Saints aren't all Saints. We have found no church, at present, that answers John 17:21. No denomination, no ministry, no sect, but we have found the ONENESS that Christ prayed for. We have found it and others are finding it! Not in an organization, not in a creed or lifestyle but in a Person - the Person of Jesus Christ!
Colossians 2:10 says it succinctly, "You are COMPLETE In Him." That completeness, without all the fences, can be found, "In Christ." For it is, "In Him and Him alone that we live and move and have our being." Acts 17:23 There, along with the others that are there, there are no fences, cross fences or barricades. There and there alone will you, along with the others find joy and peace. No denominational racism there. It is there, In Him, that all of us become His church, His United ones. It is there we become the living evidence, the demonstrable evidence of Galatians 5:22. A true gathering of the faithful ones. Little lights shining in the darkness all over the world.
We must find it, just as Jesus had to find it, in the midst of a fallen and corrupt church. That's what the churches are missing! A living, breathing, daily connection with God, where everyone comes under God and lives out their life in and through Jesus Christ, their only Lord and Savior. So much so that all KNOW that here are they that, "Belong to God!" They are the church! Not merely because of their theological correctness, nor the logo over their doorway. But, because they are the 7000 that have not bowed their knee to Baal. Not in word, not in deed nor in spirit or truth.
They are, "The Church," because they have given up their veto power and allowed God to be the ONE in charge of their every decision. They are a living demonstration, of allowing God to be their God and His grace to be their empowerment. His faith to be their faith. His life to be their life. To them and them alone, there are no more fences, cross fences or barricades because God "Reigns Supreme" in their everyday life.
Jesus prayer is being answered - are you going to be part of it?
Finding that Oneness,
Jim & Sally