orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

November 3, 2012

So many denominations but one church

Charles Holt
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — Jesus has an audience composed mostly of Pharisees--they are all Jews—to whom he is speaking. He tells them that he is the good shepherd and continues on a theme about shepherds, sheep and sheepfold.

He says, “I am the door to the sheepfold; I lead my sheep in an out of the sheepfold; my sheep know my voice and follow me; Thieves and robbers come and try to steal the sheep; a hired man does not protect the sheep but runs in fear from those who threaten the flock; I am the good shepherd and I give my life for the sheep” (See John 10:1-20).

The initial response of these Jews was: “He has a demon and is insane” (vs. 20).

During this exchange, Jesus makes a stunning and controversial assertion.

He says, “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd” (v. 16).

Question: Who are these “other sheep” which “are not of this fold;” who will hear his voice, “and there will be one flock and one shepherd?”

Today, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ cannot be called “one flock, one fold.” There are literally hundreds (thousands?) of different denominations and religions in the world.

As one writer says, “One of the questions that seem to crop up repeatedly is: if there is only one Jesus Christ, then why are there so many different Christian denominations?”

Valid reasons may be given by each of us why we choose to worship God and serve or work under a certain denominational (or nondenominational) banner. Does the “one flock” idea mean there should be only one denomination?

No Christian has the complete truth. No Church has the complete truth. We all have our traditions and worship methods but WE MUST BE UNITED by our common loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ.

I believe that true growth in Christ means we will learn to love and accept the diversity among us. The “other sheep who are not of this fold” are not in some far away land. They are right here in our communities.

“True ecumenical fellowship acknowledges, respects and learns from our differences,” says Lutheran Pastor Garth Hanson.

Let us acknowledge, respect and learn from our differences. 

But, still, Christ and him crucified MUST REMAIN CENTRAL.