I jumped when I heard the rat-tat-tat of machine-gun strafing that accompanied falling bombs in those old World War II movies. My fellow math classmates laughed at me. It was in the early sixties and President Kennedy had drawn a hard line against Russian presence in Cuba. We believed Russia had only two choices: back down or bomb us. I guess I was a little jumpy. The rat-tat-tat was only men drilling on the street outside and not Russian bombs after all.
I’m feeling like that again. We live in dangerous times and are a divided nation. Of course, we have been divided before — the Civil War comes to mind—but now we must stand firm together. When America was attacked on 9/11, or nature destroyed much of Texas in a hurricane, we instantly become Americans united, risking our lives to save neighbors that, a week before, we may have disliked because of differing ideologies.
I’ve come to the conclusion that, at life’s most basic level, there is only good and evil. Sure, there are many opinions and ideologies out there, and in a free society people can debate them and even (dare I hope) move forward together.
How much do differences in ideologies stand in the way of unity?
To what degree do our differences fit into Satan’s playbook?
For example, I asked Gary Fallesen, founder of Climbing for Christ ministry, if he encountered denominational encumbrances working with different pastors in the remote (very remote!) areas of the world where Climbing for Christ missionaries go (where other missionaries cannot or will not go). He said in those areas there is only good and evil, and denominational differences don’t matter. Make no mistake; we are in spiritual warfare with evil entities like ISIS, dangerous governments like North Korea, and even our own forms of governmental and corporate corruption.
For most of my life, I lived in a Christian silo, so to speak. As a Roman Catholic, I knew Protestants were nice people, but never would it occur to me to worship anywhere but in a Catholic church. I was raised on “Catholic teaching,” to the degree there were actually books on a “do-not-read” list (abolished in the ‘60’s). (I wonder what their titles were. I’d probably read every one of them.)
When I left (with love) Roman Catholicism and later began to write for The Good News newspaper (a Christian newspaper covering most of New York State), I met some of the most faith-filled, dedicated people of God of ALL denominations and non-denominations. I am in awe of this huge Christian church, united in belief and devotion to our Savior.
I believe we Christians must unite and face down the evil that makes terrorists slaughter people they don’t even know, that makes Americans rage and shout at each other, that does all it can to obliterate human freedom and dignity. The Body of Christ can no longer afford division. We cannot remain in our denominational silos. We must pool our resources and serve our one Lord. When asked “what religion do you belong to?” most of us would have replied, “I’m a Catholic,” or “I’m a Methodist.” I submit that perhaps we should respond, “I’m a Christian.” OR “I’m a Christian currently in a ______________congregation.” Who knows? People change congregations; you may also.
United, we can accomplish so much for Yeshua (Hebrew name for Jesus). At its most basic, I believe it is about Yeshua’s love for us and our love for him. Everything else (health, wealth, life, death, good times, bad times, denominational differences) is mere commentary. If I have lived my life believing and loving Jesus, and following his teaching to love God and my neighbor, I do not believe he will bar me from heaven because (oops!) I picked the wrong door (read denomination).
Thousands of Christian are dying right now at the hands of rampant evil. We must join hands as one, pray to our God and Savior as one, reach out to the suffering as one, and pray for each other as one. Satan wants to divide us and he uses denominational differences to do it. Satan wants to destroy us and he uses ISIS and nuclear warheads from North Korea to do it. United under God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, as ONE church established by Jesus, Yeshua, Christ, the Lion of Judah, Son of Man —whatever name speaks to your soul—the church will rise, be the hands and feet of Christ, until he comes to judge us and create a new heaven and earth.
Frankly, I have a feeling he is coming sooner than later. May he find us on our knees together, united in divine love that sees beyond non-essentials to the eternal.