It was once voted the funniest “God joke” of all time, and it goes like this:
Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, “Don’t do it!” He said, “Nobody loves me.” I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?”
He said, “Yes.” I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?” He said, “A Christian.” I said, “Me, too!” “Protestant or Catholic?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me, too!” “What denomination?” He said, “Baptist.” I said, “Me, too!” “Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?” He said, “Northern Baptist.” I said, “Me, too!” “Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”
He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.” I said, “Me, too!” “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.” I said, “Me, too!”
“Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.” I said, “Die, heretic!” And I pushed him over.
Like most humor, the story above is funny only because there is a basis in reality. Estimates vary widely, but there are somewhere between 1,100 and 41,000 “Protestant Denominations.” Undoubtedly most started with what was believed to be an important theological/doctrinal distinction.
It’s strange to me that the church has used our doctrines to divide us more than to unite. Strange because it causes the world to scratch their heads and write us off, and strange because Christ’s prayer for the church was that we’d be “one” – just as He and the Father are one (John 17:20-22). Christ’s purpose for this prayer was so the world would see our unity and believe in Him! No wonder Satan loves to divide us.
Yes doctrine is important – very important. But unity is as well. While we may gather in doctrinal clusters on Sunday morning, let us unite outside our walls so the world may actually see Jesus and believe in Him! –Dave
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. (John 17:20-21)
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