Four Aspects of Our Beliefs #2 – Distinctives
Every church and Christian denomination has characteristics that are distinctive. They have special traits, beliefs, and practices that express their group identity.
For example, a church may be known for its empowering discipleship, or effective evangelism, or dynamic prayer, or great worship, or purposeful small groups, or meaningful social justice, or mobilizing for missions.
Likewise the group label of a denomination such as Methodist, Baptist, Episcopalian, or Pentecostal often gives us a picture of how they function and what they emphasize.
The Christian and Missionary Alliance is often known for its emphases on deeper life in Christ and global evangelism or missions. Focusing on Christ as Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming King. Knowing Jesus Christ, exalting him, and completing his Great Commission. Bringing forward all of Jesus for all the world.
Since absolutes are essential and unchanging truths upon which we must all agree, distinctives are expressions of our unique calling, identity, and DNA as a church or denomination.
Distinctives are like ice cream. Some people like vanilla ice cream with caramel topping, whipped cream, lots of nuts, and a cherry on top. Other people like rocky road, cookie dough, or just plain vanilla.
Different churches and denominations can all stand on the message of Christ as our cornerstone and embrace the Bible as our authority. At the same time, we see a variety of flavors.
We can learn to appreciate one another’s distinctive flavors and respected interpretations of Scripture. At the same time, we distance ourselves from teachings that undermine the essential truths of Scripture.
Our unity is in Christ. In living and working and talking with other Christians who interpret some aspects of the Bible differently, we focus first on the absolutes. Instead of focusing on the all the areas we disagree, we find areas we do agree.
We unite under the same banner of Jesus Christ as Lord. We may be different flavors of ice cream, but we’re all ice cream.
The Church has been sometimes criticized for having so many different churches and denominations. Yet no single flavor will satisfy every need. All the distinctive flavors of our churches and denominations communicate and demonstrate God’s good news.
Jesus, the head his Church, calls and uses each different flavor to reach more people for God’s kingdom. Focusing on our common task keeps us united.
~ Pastor Dave