Did Jesus ever promote organizational identity? If he did, I must have missed it. Labels, denominations, and Bible school credentials mean nothing. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ isn't defined by a lapel pin, bumper sticker, or where we gather to worship. Take a look at just a few things that do matter to Jesus:
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; (John 8:31)
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mark 16:16-18)
Do people see those signs in our lives?
Interesting that there's no talk of big brick buildings or temples mentioned. No talk of denominations or how to start a 501(c) 3 non-profit ministry.
And what about following big name personalities? How many of us race to be a part of Dr. Rev. SoAndso's Ministry? The Mormons elevate Joseph Smith. Catholics elevate a Pope. Others flock to where Dr. Rev. SoAndso is holding a crusade. Should we swarm to certain people? Let's see what Paul had to say about that...
For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. (1 Corinthians 3:3-7)
Speaking of personalities, there is a common misreading of Matt. 28:19-20. I've heard people say that we are to “go and make disciples.” That's not what the Bible says. Have a look:
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
We are not to make disciples, we are to teach truth. It's the truth that makes us free. The focus should always be on Christ and his Word, not on us. Consider this warning from Paul:
For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. (Acts 20:29-31)
Joseph Smith, the Pope, Mary the mother of Jesus, and every Christian Celebrity was born in sin and is in need of the Savior. Every one of us is fallible and capable of wickedness and even of being false prophets. Beware of those who add to the word or take away from it! That warning is to all of us – not just Mormons. (See Which Bible?)
Our organizational identity or church affiliation means absolutely nothing. We will all individually stand before God and give an account of ourselves. No cardinal or church elder will be standing with us. Our works will be judged according to the Word of God, not a denominational handbook.
We're not special or chosen because we belong to a certain denomination or even because we're "non-denominational" and meet as a church in our house. If we don't have a love of the truth and follow God with all my heart, we'll be lost.
Slick ad campaigns like the Mormon commercials with wholesome imagery isn't truth. Religious organizations don't save us and shouldn't be where our allegiance is found. May people call us “Christians” because they can't help but see Christ in us. Our daily witness, in word and deed, should proclaim the power of God, not what organization we belong to.
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:1-7)