by Pastor Dan Delzell
Your church building may have a denominational name on it. Your mouth might speak often of your own particular denomination. And the majority of your friends may all belong to your denomination. But I'll tell this much....there is no denominational label imprinted on your soul....and there will be no denominations in heaven.
When you think of your "brand" of Christianity, you may tend to view it with at least a small sense of superiority relative to the other brands out there. After all, you probably wouldn't be part of it unless you were convinced that it is the closest thing to New Testament Christianity available today. Amidst all the denominations out there, you have carefully chosen to belong to your particular group.
While you may always view your life of discipleship through the lens of your denomination, the Lord doesn't view you that way. If you are born again, you belong to the body of Christ. He has only one body. He has only one family. There is only one Christian faith by which people enter the kingdom of God. You are either in, or you are out. There are people within all Christian denominations who are in.....and others within those denominations who are out. The true church is an "invisible" church made up of all Christians, regardless of denomination.
Every Christian is actually non-denominational in the deepest sense of the word. You might be choosing to view yourself as completely separate from believers in other denominations, but Jesus does not separate Himself from anyone in His church. Only man makes those divisions. The blood which forgives your sins is the same blood that forgives born again people in other denominations as well. God's children are related by blood and not by any one denominational label or denominational doctrine.
The Gospel message and the faith which unites all believers are greater than the secondary doctrines that differ from one Christian church to another. When God put His name on you, you became part of something far stronger than any one denomination. A single denomination is like one branch of the tree. Jesus is the true vine. Being on the same tree is more important than being on different branches. It's natural for man to want to distinguish himself and his branch. "Look at us. We are the ones following Christ the closest." Oh really. I wonder if our Savior would agree with your assessment....of if He would find it offensive and unnecessary.
Speaking of offensive, it seems like much of what comes out of Hollywood these days is distasteful. There are some exceptions however. In my opinion, one of the most talented actors in Hollywood today is Jim Caviezel. His portrayal of our Lord in "The Passion of the Christ" was amazing. Jim also starred in the movie, "Frequency." In that film which involves time travel, there is an emotional scene where Jim tells the villain: "You went down thirty years ago, pal. You just don't know it yet." Now hold that image and those words in your mind for a second.
If we could travel ahead in time, we would see what heaven will be like and how denominations will be useless and nonexistent in that place. If Jesus spoke to believers today about the various brands of Christianity, I can envision Him saying something like this: "You often think of yourselves with a label like Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Assembly of God, Catholic, or Presbyterian. Your souls do not belong to any of those denominations. All of you who are born again are actually non-denominational. You just don't know it yet."
This insight has been around for a long time. Martin Luther said, "I pray you leave my name alone. Do not call yourselves Lutherans, but Christians." John Wesley said, "I wish the name Methodist might never be mentioned again, but lost in eternal oblivion. Charles Spurgeon said, "I say of the Baptist name, let it perish, but let Christ's own name last forever. I look forward with pleasure to the day when there will not be a Baptist living." Those giants in the faith certainly had much wisdom for the entire body of Christ.
You may not be following the admonition of those men, but that won't change the fact that all Christians are actually non-denominational. Fortunately, the labels that come out of the mouths of believers are not imprinted on our souls in time or in eternity. A recognition of that fact can lead us to discover how powerfully the Holy Spirit is working in many Christian churches across the board and around the world.
Memo to all those who are in God's family through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ: When you arrive at the entrance to heaven, you will have to leave your denominational label at the gate. Sorry. No exceptions.
Dan Delzell is the pastor of Wellspring Lutheran Church in Papillion, Neb.