While some may think the following thought is aimed primarily at my brothers in the church, I would offer that most Messianic and Hebrew roots believers have never left a denominational mindset… Please read on.
Jn 17:20-23 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
‘Denomination’ is rooted in ‘division,’ as in, ‘denominator.’ Denominations define themselves against each other based on minor differences of understanding or belief, often rooted in the teachings of a single man. Think: Calvin, Wesley, Arminius, etc.
American/Western business mindset has taken the whole process a step further to take the ‘church as business’ model and craft further special ways to add value to their ‘name brand’ and thus attract more members/followers to increase offerings to pay for the new building project. This happens at the denominational and individual church levels. Take the grandiose playground set recently erected on the front lawn of a local church as evidence. They are feeling competition from the two or three other large churches within a stone’s throw that have recently completed ‘improvement’ projects.
Denomination, division, and disunity. How many churches actively seek to assemble with other congregations? How often do fellowships intentionally meet with others/visit others, etc? [I remember as a pastor asking this question before I came into the Messianic and the stonewall fear of losing members, or more importantly, tithe/offerings, to area congregations was visible. My own elders were against it… unless area congregations were coming to our place and we didn’t have to go to theirs… LOL!]
The Messianic/Hebrew roots groups have similar problems, and we need to get over them!! Oh, we do not have denominations, per se, but we most definitely have several types of cliques that lead to the same divisive result. There are those who divide over how to say the Name, what calendar to use and other more petty things. Still others divide based on who they follow… Brad, Rico, Joseph, Eddie, etc… And, honestly, I do know of a couple fellowships that rigidly restrict outside fellowship because they are protecting their tzedakah box.
Don’t even bother to ask me about Messianic Judaism and its divisions against non-Jewish Torah-keepers who follow Yeshua.
The truth is, ALL of the above: denominations, Messianic/Hebrew roots groups and Messianic Judaism’s divisions are contra Scripture and a stench to the Father. They dishonor Him and reveal the sin in our hearts. Most of all, it reveals that we are about our kingdoms (little ‘k’) and not THE Kingdom! It reveals that we don’t trust that the Ruach Hakodesh, Holy Spirit, is capable of leading/guiding/providing/shaping, etc. We think we know better…
Do we willingly put down these divisions, learn to get along and trust the Father, or will He strip us of this foolishness in the crucible of tribulation? I hope for the former, but fear we are in for the latter.
Ultimately, all of these divisions MUST go away and we will walk in unity, though maybe not uniformity.