The Christian community divides itself up so easily by denomination. It’s a way of helping us define who we are, and to let others know and see those doctrines that separate us, even though we are one in Christ. I am in the happy situation of knowing people of other Christian denominations, and also happy to say we have never had an argument. Serious discussions yes, but no arguments.
However, there is a world of non church people out there who don’t care about denominational differences. Those inside ‘the Church’ are all seen as ‘those Christians’ and not always in a nice tone. It is true that we set ourselves up for a fall when we fail our Lord, and it doesn’t matter which church we may represent. Scotland is reeling at the allegations of inappropriate behaviour of Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the highest Roman Catholic cleric, and one who has a vote to elect the next Pope. It doesn’t take long for the outside world to jump all over the story, and label all Christians as fake or hypocrites or both!
Sometimes I think we worry too much about the effects the ‘outside world’ has on the church, and we almost disregard what we do to ourselves. Every time a priest fails his calling, or a minister falls short and gets caught with his hand in the offering plate, or a pastor succumbs to temptation, and leaves his wife and family for the choir leader or organist, the church of Jesus Christ suffers much more. So much more! We are quite well prepared to know what the outside world thinks of the church, but we are never quite prepared for the evil we bring on ourselves when one of our own falls and takes precious souls with him. That includes us. You and me, so the warning is clear. To the man or woman in the street, it does not matter the denomination of the wounded or fallen soldier. The end result is that many souls are lost, who otherwise should have been able to turn to those people for counselling and consolation. We may never know the eternal consequences of these lost opportunities.
However, the Church is not doomed by our foolish actions, and we should also remind ourselves of Jesus’ words when He said in Matthew 16:18:“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”