When I was a young Christian I attended a church that participated in a softball league. The other teams were churches from various denominations. Our softball team created a door into the church for those husbands who stayed home on Sunday mornings.
I remember one very talented player who, after getting to know our athletic pastor and some of the guys, began to accompany his wife to church and Sunday school. Soon he committed his life to Christ, was baptized and was serving as an usher. Because he was an officer in the US Marines, I expect his conversion would have had a positive impact on both the troops who served under him and his colleagues. Stories like these were found every year.
Not all churches appreciate such cooperation. One area church launched a protest over the inclusion of a congregation they believed to be doctrinally in error. The protesting church believed that playing in the same league with such a heretical group would be the same as accepting their beliefs. Other churches in the league disagreed over excluding a team based on beliefs and the protesting church left the league.
The protesting church lost sight of the greater good. In order to bring doctrinal purity to a softball league, they gave up an opportunity to bring new believers into their congregation. Instead, they went back behind their walls and added a few more churches to their list of heretics.
Churches can cooperate, despite doctrinal differences, to meet their own goals and kingdom goals. Jesus only established one church. Paul did not start his own denomination for Gentiles in protest to Peter’s Messianic Movement.
Some churches don’t play well with others. (They might run with scissors, too.) Ever see a sign that reads: Independent, fundamental, King James, pretrib, premil, EVERYONE WELCOME?
Jesus said, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. (John 17:20-21 NKJ)
Jesus prayed not for our agreement but for our unity. Through our love for each other, outsiders would now that our love and our faith is true (JN 13:35). The world is watching.
One winter in Havelock, NC, (the same community with the church softball league) the churches decided to have a community Christian music festival in the park. This was very loosely organized. Everyone was welcome. There were choirs, bands, gospel groups, and soloists with taped accompaniment.
When rain threatened to end the event, the Roman Catholic Church opened their gym and the show went on. As a young Christian I learned the lesson that other Christians are not the enemy. They are not even competitors. We are partners in building the Kingdom of God. I know that there will be no divisions in heaven, why should there be divisions on earth?
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”