Names

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There’s a word used to describe a certain segment of the Church. Actually, there are a NUMBER of words used in describing the Body of Christ. No, I’m not referring to words like “arms”, “legs”, “hands”, etc. Different words that seem to imply division, rather than unity.

Names.

Of course, it’s nice to locate people by what they believe. It makes it easier to know who we can hang around with, and who we should avoid. Right?

That’s why we call some people liberals, others fundamentalists. Some are known as Armenians; I’m told they clash with the Calvinists. And I can never keep it straight who believes what.

There are Lutheran, Methodist, and Jesus Only believers. Baptists, Free Methodists, Brethren, and so many others I can’t remember, or keep straight. Of course, each group believes their doctrine is THE correct interpretation of the scriptures; which means the other groups are just a little bit flaky (at least, a little).

So about this word, this group, I started to tell you about. They’re called “Pentecostal“. From Acts 2:1-4. The word is used a couple of different ways, depending on which part of the church is using it. For instance, when a “Pentecostal” says, “I’m Pentecostal”, they say it loud and proud. But we all believe what we believe, and we believe what we believe is right! Bless God!

And we stick a name on people who don’t believe like us.

When a “Non-Pentecostal” points to someone and says, “They’re Pentecostal”, chances are they mean, “That guy is a nut!”

Have you ever been guilty of pointing out a Baptist to a Pentecostal brother? I have.

Tongue talking fanatics, that’s what Pentecostals are. But they’re not the only odd duck.

Lutherans are people who can’t pray unless the prayer is written down for them to read.

Methodists, they used to be bible thumping, holiness preaching, students of the Word. Now they’re just a bunch of liberals, like the Presbyterians.

Baptists? You can’t be a good one unless you believe in eternal security and read from a Schofield bible.

Jesus Only people, well, they’re stuck in Acts 2, skipping clear past Matthew 28:18-20. And they’ll just about fight you to prove their point. But if there isn’t a trinity, what’s it called. Parity?

Brethren? One group of Brethren baptize in water face first, and another clan baptizes like the Baptists.

And of course, there isn’t just one group of Baptists. Oh no. There’s Regular Baptists (they’re the ones with plenty of fiber in their diet), Black Baptists, American Baptists, Full Gospel Baptists (they’re the ones who received the left foot of fellowship from the “Non” Full Gospel Baptists), Southern Baptists, and, I don’t know for sure, but there’s probably Montana Baptists (made up of ultra conservative types, Tea Party Republicans). They’ll be running the country, some country anyway, one of these days. Just wait and see.

I’m NOT putting down Pentecostals (I am one, if you must know which group I’m in). I’m not making fun of any other group, either. There’s a bit of weirdness in each and every group. How do I know?

Easy. People are weird.

What I’m attempting to say is this: Jesus didn’t die so he could have a bunch of body parts. He didn’t go to prepare a place that has to be partitioned, so the holy rollers are separated from the prayer readers.

He is the head of a (singular) Body. Filly joined together. Not just the Baptists joined with other Baptists (which doesn’t work too well, anyway), or the Assembly of God folk (you know, the “All the Gospel” cats) locking arms with “those of like precious faith.”

Jesus is the head of One Body of Believers!

Yes, I have different things which I believe are true; according to the scriptures. But first, foremost, and really, what else matters; I am a believer. Jesus died for my sin and rose from the dead so I could have eternal life.

He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquity. Surely he bore our sorrows, and by his stripes we are healed.

Pentecostal? So what? Baptist? Big deal! Child of God through faith in Jesus? That’s what I’m talking about.

How about you? What’s your favorite label to use? Can you receive communion with a tongue talker? Can you learn from someone who went to a different seminary? Can you listen to someone teach, who never went to school? How about reading material from an ignorant fisherman? Like First and Second Peter?

Yes, the Church of Jesus needs to grow up. That’s what Paul prayed (you Lutherans know this stuff).

“…until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”(Ephesians 4:13-16 ESV)

It’s what the Lord has been working on for a long time.

How about us growing up TOGETHER?