It doesn’t take long to figure out that Christ-followers come in many different packages. It sometimes seems more like consumerism than spirituality as different groupings elevate their differences. Do you prefer traditional or modern worship? Would you like a highly ordered (liturgical) service or a follow the wind of the Spirit service? Is a large cathedral to your liking, or would worshiping in a commercial building suit you best? And those are just the surface differences.
Scratch the surface on church and you’ll encounter names like Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptists, Presbyterian, Congregational, and many more. Dig a bit deeper and you begin to hear things like Calvinist, Anabaptist, Evangelical, and Arminiaist. Go even deeper you’ll discover other differences based on all manner of things. Looking at the vastness of the church, it seems like we’re choosing from a complex menu of possibilities. Let’s see, I’ll take Baptist for the entrée smothered with Evangelical sauce, but just to spice things up, sprinkle some continuation of the Spiritual Gifts on top.
Standing at the doorway of all these possibilities is daunting and confusing. How could there be so many right answers which seem conflicted? But here’s the main thing – all of them share certain core beliefs. God created all we see. God created mankind in His own likeness and image. Mankind chose and continues to choose their own way over obedience to God. Jesus Christ, God the Son, became flesh, born of a virgin, to take away the sins of the world. Jesus lived, ministered, and suffered the cruel death of crucifixion, and on the third day, He rose again. Jesus is the way to God through the forgiveness of sin. He will return someday. All Christians and Christ-followers share these core truths, although we may emphasize or have differing opinions on a myriad of other details.
Along with those core truths (download our eBook called The Basics to dig a bit deeper), there are core commands. Hearing God’s Word and doing it is also central to faith. Those core commands, according to Jesus, are to love God with all you are and love others the same way He loves you. Our focus is to love God in our worship, prayer, and applying His Word to our daily lives and to spread that same love to those around us.
As you continue to grow in faith, stay firmly connected to what John Wimber of the Vineyard Movement called the “main and the plain.” It’s easy to get side-tracked and territorial on divisive issues, don’t let them become the main focus of your faith. Instead, focus on Jesus, who originated your faith and is also finishing it. And if someone comes preaching another gospel, another way to be right with God, do not listen to them. Stick to the main and plain of God’s good news.
As you grow in Christ, you will no doubt come to your own understanding about those other things. That’s fine and even expected. But stay humble, be open to the views of others on matters not in the “main and plain.” Recognize that while we may differ on so many issues, we agree on the core truths and are truly brothers and sisters in Christ.