Whether a Methodist, Roman Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist, Baptist, Mormon etc., becoming a part of a church family can become a large part of one’s identity and lifestyle. Church membership is a place where you can belong and there was a time when I wore my church denomination and local membership with some level of pride. However, there also came a time when I had to truly figure out ‘Who I am’ and to ‘Whom I belong’.
Quite simply, I broke it down and figured out that this is who I am.
I am a Child of God – a Christian.
Nothing more… nothing less.
I belong to God. He is my Father. God created me, formed me in my mother’s womb and claimed me as His own. He loved me first, before anyone or any other church or denomination ever existed. My identity is in Him. My choice to serve God as a Christian is based on my belief that God is my Creator, my Father, and that he has given me the free will to claim salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.
The denomination that I attend – it’s not as important to me as it once was. The churches in the New Testament were of no denomination, they were just referred to by their location – Corinth(Corinthians), Philippi (Philippians) and so on. People attended these churches regularly depending on where they lived, not according to the doctrines that each church held. People were simply ‘Christians’ or the ‘Saints in Christ Jesus’ (Phil 1:1, Eph 1:1).
Whilst each denomination may claim to hold ‘the truth’ – claims of exclusivity in areas of doctrine, prophecy etc., often yield an unfortunate consequence of dividing the body of Christ based on our limited ability to accurately interpret the Bible.
Therefore church denomination and membership, programs and prophecy interpretations, being theologically ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ are no longer a priority to me. I want to focus on following the example of love, forgiveness, grace and mercy that Jesus gave to us. My priority is to serve God outside of the church, just as Jesus served and nurtured people outside of the synagogue.
Church denominations and conflicting doctrines are not going away. However, it is important that we do not forsake fellowship with other Christians. Choosing a church requires individuality, humility, prayer, questioning, direction from the Holy Spirit and Bible study regardless of whether our family has a generational history in a particular denomination. We need to be open minded and aware that every church is fallible and there is no church or doctrine that can save us – therefore it is vital that our relationship with God is well-established as we search.
As I write, I am reminded of the promise that God has given to me:-
‘In my Father’s house are many mansions; If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.’ (John 14: 2 -3; NKJV)
I firmly believe that the True Church that I am seeking, the ‘True Church Membership’ that I need – safely rests in Heaven – with My Father.