Recently, a minister from New York spoke to his congregation concerning the George Zimmerman trial and it's outcome. What he said made me think about the divisions of people in America. We divide ourselves by all sorts of titles and groupings, some harmless and some detrimental to the very fabric of our nation and even sadder, to the detriment of our calling to fulfill the Great Commission. Please take the time to view the video on the link below.
In the above sermon, the message is that the people in this particular congregation have identified themselves as a particular group and therefore their worldview is shaped, even dictated, by that identity. The minister's point is that before they can think clearly, they have to identify with Christ and see themselves as Christians before they see themselves as any other group. That message makes a great point and goes way beyond the context in which it is expressed.
As I considered the message and it's point that our self-identity affects our worldview it made me think of denominational division within the church. It made me think about how we are so busy identifying with our particular brand of Christianity that we often lose sight of the Christianity part and get hung up on the brand name. This is not a new problem, actually, the Apostle Paul had to address this very issue in the Corinthian church as some of them were hung up on certain Apostles rather than focusing on Christ.
1Corinthians 1:11- 17 For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.
What I mean is that each one of you says, "I follow Paul," or "I follow Apollos," or "I follow Cephas," or "I follow Christ."
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,
so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name.
(I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
I find it remarkable how often people I meet, when asked about their belief system, will name a particular denomination rater than identifying with the name of Christ. " I'm Lutheran, (I follow Martin Luther), I'm Baptist (I follow the SBC), I'm Methodist (I follow Wesley), I'm Catholic (I follow the Pope) etc. Paul explained to the church in Corinth that it was Christ who died for them, and with Him they should identify and follow. These divisions can have some very dire consequences. Just a few hundred years ago, representatives of the Roman church, in the name of the Pope, persecuted and killed other Christian sects who would not bow to the Papacy. The following excerpt from Wikipedia shows just one example: