My faith background may look like a complete mess from someone who simply looks at it from a bird’s eye view. I was raised as a Baptist and preacher’s kid where I began my relationship with Christ. I attended a Methodist university that was honestly 90% apathetic or atheist and where I was strongly challenged to own my faith and ultimately was spurred me to enter into ministry. From there, I attended and graduated from a Lutheran Seminary, joined a Mennonite church, and worked for the non-denominational parachurch organization, Youth for Christ. Currently, I am working with YFC Military at the United States Air Force Academy where I serve both Protestant and Catholic students.
We constantly preach about and advocate for the body of Christ, for unity with other believers, and for the Church to begin to worship as one. Can we give up our strongly held beliefs that are not part of the core parts of our faith? What of worship was nothing like what you’d expect (guitars and drums or only hymns)? What if we stopped arguing about what heaven is going to be like and simply get excited that we are on our way? Could we survive with KJV and NIV both?
My own faith is not rooted in a specific denomination, yet to say that I am non-denominational would rob my experience of the rich litergy of the Catholic stations of the Cross or the always present Baptist potluck. God is in the Lurthern sayings as well as the respect for life in the Mennonite denomination.
In the last three years, it has become less about denominations or even Protestant or Catholic and so much more about the Church, the bride of Christ. When we feed the homeless, we do so hand in hand. When we go on retreats and the Catholic students need to attend mass, we join in with them. When a Lutheran student finishes Confirmation class, every volunteer is in attendance to cheer them on.
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
– John 17:20-23
Jesus’ words to the American churches are SO crystal clear, we need to find love in each other. As we become more united in ministry, so our faith becomes more attractive to those that do not believe. I did not join Christianity to bicker, but to join a community of believers in fellowship and worship. In fact, when I worship through all of the different traditions, Catholicism, Baptist, Pentecostal, Mennonite, and every other Christian tradition.
May we find unity in God’s word, hold firm to His Spirit that it may guide us, and may we worship Him faithfully while telling the world of God’s unending grace.