THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ME AND MY CHURCH: KILLER OF CHRISTIAN WITNESS by RICH MAFFEO

Intro:

Denominationalism has become the bane of Christianity because many believers seem to confine themselves in their church cubicles and see other Christians as enemies. We also present so many discordant and mutually exclusive pictures of our faith that the world is unable to get a clear understanding of it from us. As a result, people get confused as to which sect is preaching the true gospel or what the gospel is for that matter.

As Paul the apostle asked in 1 Corinthians 1:13, “Is Christ divided?” You know what the answer ought to be but sadly, we are so far away from that. This article addresses this plague in the body of Christ.

Our brother, Rich Maffeo, who wrote the article converted to Christianity from Judaism in his early twenties and was caught up in this syndrome for a long time before he learnt to rise above it. I pray that in reading it, you will receive grace to do the same in Jesus’ name.

The Gospel According to Me and My Church: Killer of Christian Witness

This morning I read once again Jesus’ comment in John 17:20-21:

“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; . . . . so that the world may believe that You sent Me.”

I stopped at that last clause: “So that the world may believe that You sent Me.” It is no wonder to me why so few people come to Christ when those who claim to follow Him are so angry and dismissive with their fellows who wear different theological labels: Catholic. Baptist. Pentecostal. Nazarene. Church of Christ. Lutheran. Methodist. The list extends for pages and pages.

I’ve published this on my blog a few times since it originally appeared in 2009. Sadly, nothing has changed. We continue our descent into spiritual fratricide — all in the name of Christ. But I won’t relent, so here are my latest thoughts on this:

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Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus, is known as the Prince of Peace. He is the epitome of love and we are expected to be like Him. Think what image the world gets of Him looking at us bickering among ourselves. And we pad our preaching to the unsaved with dead weight about doctrines and issues that do not directly pertain to salvation but merely service our theological positions. Our arguments and squabbles cannot bring light to the darkness of the world. They rather suck us into the darkness if we are not careful.

The gospel is this:

John 1:1,14,11-12 (KJV)

“1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

“14. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

“11. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”

“12. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”


If you want it summarised, John the apostle is still your guy. The same book of the Bible credited to him and cited above, chapter 3 and verse 16 states that:

“… God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Other capsules from Matthew 4:17b (KJV) and 1 John 2:2 (NIV) go like this:

“Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

“He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
That means He has paid the debt for our sins by his death on the cross.

The procedure for salvation is simple according to the scriptures below:

“… Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins …” Acts 2:38 (KJV)

“… if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 (NIV)


Once we agree on the foregoing recap of the gospel, every other thing can be seen differently and it doesn’t hurt the essence of the faith. But no matter what, we can pray for all believers, including ourselves, to constantly grow in our knowledge of God and His word and be freed from error. We should teach in love as occasion demands but we must never allow our interactions with or descriptions of other believers to bring a reproach to the name of our Lord.

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But many of us refuse to tow this path. Instead, we tear one another down, make ourselves a laughing stock before the world and render our witness for Christ ineffectual. In this, we act like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day:

“On another Sabbath He entered the synagogue and was teaching; and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him closely to see if He healed on the Sabbath, so that they might find reason to accuse Him. . . . And Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to destroy it?’ After looking around at them all, He said to him, ‘Stretch out your hand!’ And he did so; and his hand was restored. But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus” (Luke 6:6-11).

Each time I read this passage, I am bewildered by the Pharisees’ cold-heartedness. Why could it be wrong to heal someone – even on the Sabbath?

Throughout the Old Testament, God appointed religious scholars such as the Pharisees and scribes to protect the integrity of the Jewish faith. And next to circumcision, obedience to the Sabbath Day commandment was a central requirement to the proper performance of Jewish law. Little wonder, then, that Jesus angered so many of the Jewish teachers and doctrinal specialists when – according to their understanding of Scripture – he broke the Sabbath by healing people.

As I contemplated this vignette in Luke’s gospel, I focused on that thought – “according to their understanding of Scripture”. And then another vignette in St. Luke’s gospel flashed into my memory. In this one (chapter 9), the apostle John said to Jesus:

“We saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow along with us” (verse 49).

It seems the Pharisees and other Doctors of the Law were not alone in the practice of their religion within the strict confines of their understanding of Scripture. Jesus’ disciples practiced the same kind of – what I call – “all or nothing” faith.

“All or nothing” faith. It’s what I practiced for decades. Unless people worshiped Christ like I worshiped Him, or interpreted Scripture as I did, or attended the same kind of church as I – their Christian faith was suspect.

I should have paid more attention to the Lord’s response to the apostle John in that next verse in Luke’s gospel: “Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you” (Luke 9:50).

“All or nothing” faith. It’s hard to achieve the kind of unity for which Jesus prayed when we accept from others nothing less than the “Gospel According to Me and My Church” (see John 17:20-23).

Perhaps that’s why the Lord Jesus said to the Doctors of the Law: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24).

Or St. Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome: “Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4).

Let me end with this all-important question: Considering how rapidly America and the free world are descending into darkness, when will Christians – Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox – finally put aside our “gospel-according-to-me-and-my-church” mentality, agree to disagree on things unrelated to eternal salvation, and work together to win the world for Christ?

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The scriptures in this article were taken from the New American Standard Bible, unless where otherwise stated.

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ABOUT THE WRITER:

Rich Maffeo was raised in a Jewish home. When he was twenty-two, he discovered Jesus is the Messiah and has been His follower ever since, belonging to different denominations over the years.

Brother Maffeo is a registered nurse, currently living in Georgia, US and teaching in a local BSN nursing programme. He is also serving the Lord by teaching weekly Bible study and delivering a Sunday message to a group of senior citizens. In addition, he writes a blog devoted to honoring the Lord at www.inhimalone.com.

He and his wife Nancy are married thirty-five years and have three grown children.

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I am a university lecturer. I teach Mass Communication, mostly writing courses like Feature and Interpretative Writing, Magazine Article Writing and News Writing, and let’s just say I’ve been doing this for a long time. As you have probably guessed, I am a born-again Christian.

26 thoughts on “THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ME AND MY CHURCH: KILLER OF CHRISTIAN WITNESS by RICH MAFFEO

  1. Wow. If only the ears would hear and the mouth would proclaim that we are all one, despite our different christian denominations.

    I pledge not to condemn other churches henceforth and channel my energy to believing and trusting in God as my personal lord and saviour, just as the scripture commands.

    Indeed, there is no better idol to emulate than the Bible.

    Thank you ma and thank the author for me too. Rich Maffeo.

  2. I agree with Mr. Rich!Most people are taking the gospel and manipulating it to suit their personal bias and judgements. The thing is,this rabbit has burrowed too deep in the earth that it’ll take a huge caterpillar to pull it out.
    The best bet though is that in our own little corners, friendships and environments, we should share the gospel as it is. Leave your personal bias, additions and subtractions. Just give it as it is, stop scaring people away.
    Well articulated post! Thank you Aunty Edith!!!

  3. As Christians,we are united in one God, we have one faith in one lord-Jesus Christ. I believe we should see ourselves as one to foster peace and unity in the bond of righteousness in Christ. We should follow the instruction of Christ which says ”ye shall love one another as i have loved you; by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples.”

  4. I look forward to the day where denominations are cast aside and unity as God defines it is worn as a garment of love that is unconditional love by the brethren. Maybe when the world see this evangelizing others would be less of a system burden of begging the lost to come out of darkness as they would be draw to the unity of the saints. Nice read and a message that needs to be taught daily. God bless you Edithohaja dear friend for your continuing efforts to let others be heard?

  5. THANK YOU MA.IF ONLY CHRISTIANS WILL UNITE TO BECOME ONE WE WOULD ACHIEVE MORE RESULTS.ITS NORMAL TO DISAGREE ON SOMETHINGS LIKE DOCTRINES,TEACHINGS,DOGMA AND BELIEFS BUT WE SHOULD AGREE TO WORK TOGETHER TO WIN THE WORLD FOR CHRIST.WHICH IS THE MAIN REASON WHY CHRIST DIED.

  6. One of the main things killing this great nation is denominationalism…if only we could all see ourselves as equal beings and discard the belief that one denomination is better than the other

  7. Rich, this is so good! I was led to it after reading a poem today, about Christian unity, by Edith Ohaja. This has inspired me to write a post about brothers and sisters in Christ at The Silver Lining at angelaslittleattic.com. Brothers and sisters of different denominations, who actually ARE saved by the blood of Jesus! I think the main reason Christian denominations aren’t united, is because many people within their own denominations, aren’t truly saved, themselves!

    I’d like to share your blog on The Silver Lining Facebook page at http://www.facebook/angelaslittleattic.com. The theme this month is healing, and oh how our churches need the healing touch of Jesus, right now! Think how strong and powerful our message of salvation would be, if we stood as one in Christ, instead of scattering to the winds. If everyone wasn’t so intent in building their own “Tower of Babel,” maybe God would bless us unite as back together! Thank you for this inspiring post on working together as brothers and sisters in Christ! ?

    • Hi Angela! Glad you loved the post, praise God! Have sent you a Fb inbox message on how to reach Rich Maffeo. Wish you and your family a lovely week ahead.

    • Amen. Thank you so much, Bee! If unity weren’t important, Jesus would not have prayed so particularly about it as He did in John 17. God bless you abundantly in Jesus’ name.

  8. United we stand, divided we fall. When we are one, we fight the battle together with prayers. But when we are divided, devil uses it as an avenue to win souls to himself. So we are encouraged to love one another no matter our denomination.

  9. I am so glad about this post because if all Christians can read this post we will all come to the conclusions that there is no point of being biased when it comes to the things of God.

  10. It is indeed disheartening to see Christians tear down themselves all because of doctrines ,forgetting the main purpose of Jesus’ death and resurrection. They leave the main reason for the gospel and bother on little things. Very sad.

  11. Despite the differences in Christianity, every denomination should not preach religious doctrines but should preach Christ who is author and finisher of our faith. In this way Christians from different denominations will come in unity.

  12. This is a vital lesson for all Christians, the divisions in the church is one of the issues Apostle Paul addressed in 1st corinthians. The message of salvation should be our priority i.e leading the lost to Christ, and this can only be achieved by obeying Jesus’ command to love and the very person that can help us love and do every other thing right is the Holy Spirit, with him we can never go wrong.

  13. Racism, ethnicity and fanaticism that has eaten deep into our Christian faith. if only we can come to the realisation that the best form of preaching and winning souls for Christ is through our Christ-like attitudes which entails love for our family, friends neighbours, people of different race and those of different religious beliefs and opinions. we are even admonished by Christ to love our enemies.

  14. I strongly agree with you Sir. It is clearly stated in the scripture that He (Christ Jesus) died both the Gentiles and the Jew ;the circumcised and the uncircumcised and there’s no condemnation for them so long they are in Christ Jesus. But denomination as its name implies, has brought in division and condemnation;comparing one with the other. We now practice religion instead of living Christ. Christians wake up!

  15. Christianity is so divided, we have the protestants, the catholics, and the likes of them. It’s now ‘according to my pastor, or according to my church’ a not according to the gospel of Christ. We are one in the body, there should be no division. In as much as you are not to forsake the gathering of the brethren, you should also remember that heaven is an individual race.

  16. I don’t think the body of Christ is still one today, though disunity has been the order of the day since time immemorial.
    People now, don’t follow what the Bible says, rather they follow what their pastors or denominations say.

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