Stormy Sea: Unity in Christ

“We are all in the same boat in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.” -G.K. Chesterton

You know what makes me mad? People disagreeing with me. Plain and simple, I am very much like my dad in this way. I may get it in my head that the sky is green, and nothing you say will change my mind. NOTHING, I TELL YOU. I think I  am stubborn and headstrong, and to some extent I believe we all are. I think this is the reason we have so many church denominations in the world, 38,000 in total.


 Picture this, you’re reading the Bible and you stumble upon this passage written by Paul in 1st Timothy 2:9-10

“… women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works”

What do you do about that passage? Do you go out and condemn every Miss Perfect hair and make-up, or Miss I always looks like I walked out of a J.Crew magazine? No, we don’t, do we? We love girls (and guys) that have great style, don’t we? We hold them in higher status even though they Bible specifically says women should make themselves beautiful by the good deeds they do.
And what are we to think about the verses following it? 1st Tim 2: 11-15

 Women should learn quietly and submissively.  I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly. For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result.  But women will be saved through childbearing, assuming they continue to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty.”

Now I can only speak for myself, but WHAT THE HECK PAUL?? “The Woman??”  I am not allowed to teach? (If you believe that I guess you are probably not reading this in the first place) Paul goes right out and says that it’s Eve’s fault that we’re sinners. Thanks, Paul! No wonder you never got married. 
But on a serious note, how are we to practice this in a modern society that is marked by it’s strides for equality? Should I do as the text says and refrain from teaching? Should I just wait for the day that a man comes, woos me, and takes me away to live with him “happily ever after?” Should my life really only be about childbearing? 
No, as times changed so do we and we interpret the Bible into our modern society. If you believe that the Bible is God’s living word then that is okay, only if we understand that, can we fully learn and grow from reading it. If it was just a “book” then it would have long since been outdated. It would be like reading a Cosmo magazine from the 1840’s and applying it’s fashion today’s society. It just wouldn’t work. 
So keeping in mind that the Bible is fully God breathed and fully Holy, yet still applying to our daily “modern” lives, how do denominations fit into all of this? 
Well it’s pretty straightforward, if I read one passage and decide I think women should never dress flashy, and that jewelry is horrid I would probably attend a church in a denomination that has teachings that line up with my beliefs. Maybe I completely disagree with that and I believe Paul was a completely chauvinistic pig, then I’d probably attend a  Unitarian church. 
There is nothing wrong with that, Christianity is a religion that gives believers some choices. Think of those “Choose your own adventure books,” eventually we all made it to the end, but maybe we got to it from a different route. 
The teachings of Christ throughout the Bible continually says that two things, the only things you have to do to be a Christian are this (Matt 22) 

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Everything else you read about in the Bible comes second to this; loving Christ and loving others are the key elements to becoming a Christian, without it everything else is useless. 
In 1 Corinthians 12 (please revisit this if you haven’t in a while!)  Paul details what spiritual gifts are, and how if we use all of our gifts together we will become complete, or unified, as a body. He writes that no one has all of the gifts, and that only when we share our gifts can we get anything accomplished. 
So if all of the “mouths” are hanging out at the Pentecostal church, and all of the “feet” are at the Baptist church, all of the “eyes” are at the Presbyterian church how is anything going to get done?? 
Think of it this way, by believing that Christ died for us, accepting his love for us, and  understanding that we are made to love others, we have been given a “body.” That body is naked and it is up to us to continue studying, learning, growing, “clothing” it. This is where our personal interpretations of the Bible come into play, they are the clothing. How strange would it be if we all walked around naked, right? Yes, I know some of you freaks out there would like it, but I personally am a fan of clothing. I get to choose what clothing goes with my personality, I may dislike the clothing that the person beside me is wearing, but I am glad they choose clothing as opposed to nothing. 
If we think of denominations as people who choose to dress in the same style, which is literally the case in churches, then we create 2 problems. First, we create cliques, churches become a place for you to become complacent, you know you will be comfortable there.  That is a wonderful thing about church, it is a place that you are accepted, I in no way mean to critique that, I simply point out how easy it can become for us to be Christians because of how easy it is to attend church on Sundays. 
Second, we are only hindering the kingdom by acting as separate entities. Remember Finding Nemo? Remember the group of fish that escape the fisherman’s net because they choose to swim together? How much more of an impact could Christians have if we came together, keeping our personal beliefs, for the same cause? 
I think one problem many believers have with people in other denominations is that they believe they’re the correct one, and that others are wrong; by thinking about personal convictions as just that, personal, or “clothing” on a holy body we can begin to accept one another as Children of God who simply have different convictions, or styles. 
I challenge you to talk to people of other denominations, not with a mission to convert them to your belief system, but as a fellow believer, simply wanting an insight into their mind. It can be hard at sometimes, I know sometimes I want to scream at them “THERE’S NO BIBLICAL EVIDENCE FOR THAT!!” but please refrain from that, simply learn and fellowship together, building friendships based on a relationship in Christ.
Simply try to unite the body of Christ through love, understanding, and friendship. 
“We are all in the same boat in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.” -G.K. Chesterton
“The first thing I ask is that peope should not make use of my name, and should not call themselves Lutherans but Christians. What is Luther? The teaching is not mine.” 
– Martin Luther
Humility is the secret of fellowship, and pride is the secret of division.” -Robert C. Chapman 

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2 responses to “Stormy Sea: Unity in Christ”

  1. I have enjoyed reading this recent entry. Wow, so true. We had an intern pastor once who talked about who we are in Christ. He had, like , 20 things he ranked that was most important in his life, he always pointed out that our denomination (lutheran at the time) wasn't even on that list. Yes, we are first a child of God, our mother's daughter, a sister etc…. Being a certain denomiation doesn't define us who we are in Christ. He reminded our church of this every week for 20 months while he was our intern pastor. Yes, it is hard to keep ones mouth shut when you know a church does not speak from the bible, but sometimes that doesn't matter when our goal is to meet to fellowship, to lift one another up in love and encouragement. I enjoyed what you said about denomiations and most of all, had a great laugh about Paul and why he never married. LOL. I want to be a blog follower, will come back later to do this. What a great woman's bible study or retreat topic this could be. Thanks for sharing from your heart. Hope my rambling made sense. Robin


  2. That was great Jen. I agree.


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