One True Bahamas. Bahamian Church Experiences, Part 1

When Sunday morning rolled around in our beautiful, tropical paradise in Nassau, Bahamas, we decided to attend a nearby Baptist church. Awestruck by their zeal and enthusiasm, I wondered if we had entered a Charismatic assembly! The demonstration of faith was so vivid around me that I had to ask myself what would happen if we all, as Christians, were as full of fire, were as unified?

Does the existence of myriads of denominations really matter? Does it matter if you are Lutheran, Baptist or Charismatic? Aren't we all more alike than different? Aren't we all followers of the Christ? Aren't we all encouraged to love one another beyond the dim realities of this world? Why stress our dissimilarities?

The Bahamas are made up of well over 700 islands and 2400 cays. Doesn't this sound a bit like the Christian church? There is just one major difference: Many churches proclaim to be the "One True Church", while none of the islands or cays claim to be the One True Bahamas! Instead, all of the inhabitants of these islands are united, proud to be Bahamians!

Can you imagine a single small island tearing itself away and claiming to be the only true Bahamas? How would the world see this? They would discern that another country has just been formed, but that new country would not be considered the One True Bahamas when there are more than 700 other islands and 2400 cays who could claim that title!

We better wake up from our stupor and do what Peter urges us to do: "Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps." (1 Peter 2:21 NIV)

What example did Jesus leave us? Is it a model of independence and pride? Is it an illustration of the concept "My way or the highway"? Absolutely not! Here are the words He left us with: "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." (1 John 4:10 NIV)

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16 NIV)

Jesus has set us an example of love, LOVE, LOVE!!!

What should be our reaction to this kind of love as followers of Christ?

"Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." (1 John 4:11-12 NIV)

"We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother." (1 John 4:19-21 NIV)

Moreover, one of Jesus' last prayers while on earth was this: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35 NIV)

If we want to revolutionize the world, we need to clean up our house first! We are not proclaimers of a certain denomination. None of our denominations really matter! Remember, Jesus never proclaimed to be a Presbyterian or a Wesleyan or even a Non-denominational! In fact He never even proclaimed to be a Christian! The focus should never have been directed on our inner self or on our place of worship, but on the One who loved us so much that He willingly died for us so that eternity was made possible to each one of us!

We are not here to build our kingdom! We are here to proclaim God's kingdom and the only way we can do that is by loving not only God with all of our heart, but each other above anything else as well!

You want a revolution? Focus on Jesus! You want change in this world? Reach out towards your brothers and sisters across the myriads of denominations and love each other the way Jesus' showed us the example! Only then will this world really realize what Jesus is about! This is my prayer for this Christmas season!

I wonder which tropical island I should visit next in the Bahamas.

Does it really matter? They are all part of the true Bahamas!

Rob Chaffart

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