Why do we do this? Are we really better than another because of it, or does it just make us feel that way? It’s in every area of our lives. I refer to our efforts to align ourselves and identify with something larger.
In the United States, in the political realm, we call ourselves conservatives, liberals, or moderates – most times specifically using the party name. Within the church, we refer to ourselves as Baptists, Catholics, Pentecostals, non-denominations, etc. Within those denominations, we’re quick to narrow it down even further by what branch, main focus, or specific location we attend.
It’s also at work in other nations. In the church in Israel, for example, people refer to themselves as Messianic Jews, Palestinian or Arab Christians, probably others, too. In China, it’s the state-approved church or the underground church to start with, before all the subdivisions are added.
Is there anything wrong with these labels? None of them are found in Scripture. Thus, they actually divide and cause factions among the body of Christ, rather than unifying. Even when we add Christian to any of those labels, we infer that Christ is not enough. If Christ is really enough, why do we prefer to look for the differences that keep us at odds with each other, rather than looking at Jesus Christ and Him crucified. He, alone, unites His body. Not Christ plus our denomination-type alignment. Not Christ plus our culture or nationality.
We’re either in Christ or we’re not. All other alignments are contrary to Him. There, I said it. But I wasn’t the first:
Matthew 12:30 NLT Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.
Galatians 3:26-28 NIV 26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.*
2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
In Christ. He, alone, is our identity. We will never be completely united by our opinions or leanings, or even our natural heritage. Only in Christ, and in Christ alone, are we drawn together in the unity of His Spirit – His Spirit of love. We are born into Jesus Christ. We are new creatures. One in Christ. May that be our only I.D. tag!
1 Corinthians 1:10-13 NIV 10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.* 11 My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?
* (highlighted by Kay for emphasis)