ImageNo matter how you look at Christianity we are pretty splintered.  It is clear that we have not lived the prayer of Jesus Christ to practice our oneness.  However, no matter how many people have foreseen the decline of Christendom, it seems that we are still growing.

According to the International Bulletin of Missionary Research, of the 6,691,484,000 inhabitants of this planet (don't you love those rounded numbers?), 2,231,421,000 are Christians; 1,412,301,000 are Muslim; 887,991,000 are Hindus; 391,122,000 are Buddhists and 15,044,000 are Jewish.  Within the approximate one third of the world's population, the Christian group is split between Catholics counting 1,130,401,000; Independent Churches counting at 422,659; Protestants counting 386,644,000 and Orthodox at 252,891,000.

This year, those who follow the Catholic calendar will celebrate the resurrection of Christ Jesus on March 23, 2008 while those who celebrate the resurrection of Christ Jesus according to the Orthodox calendar will do so on April 27, 2008.  It takes a degree in mathematics to be able to explain how our church leaders get to these conclusions.  (In 2007 both groups celebrated the resurrection on the same Sunday!)

In spite of these splinters and calculations, one can still argue for one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.  In spite of all the major divisions and thousands of denominations, the predominant issue is still Jesus.  In spite of when a person comes into the church – as an infant, in the middle of one's life or within the last days of one's earthly journey, the answer given by Paul to the Philippian jailer still stands: What must I do in order to be saved?  Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved!  (Acts 16:29-31)

Splits within Christendom are over things such as the supremacy of the popes, modes of baptisms, and the various interpretations about the return of Christ. However, in times of persecution against Christianity, rarely have martyrs been asked if they were papists, Baptists or amilennialists.  They were asked if they were Christians, followers of Christ and witnesses for him.

Thus Christ speaks in Matthew 10:33: "Whoever confesses me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.  But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven." By confessing Christ, by witnessing about who He is and what he has done, Christians throughout the world have the promise of Christ that he will do the same for them before His Father.

In addition to our confession of Jesus, Christians do the works that Christ has done on this earth.  When Jesus Christ was on earth he took care of the downtrodden, the sick and poor. In the day of judgment that will be one of the criteria for our lives here on earth as the followers of Christ: "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or  thirsty and give you something  to drink? When did we see you and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison, and go to visit you? The King will reply: I tell you the truth, whatever you have done these for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:37-40)

Christ promised to build his church.  This church is being built as his people confess Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord as they continue to do acts of mercy and kindness in His Name.

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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...