The United Methodist Church is celebrating 50 years of its birth with the merger of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church in 1968. An article published today interviewed witnesses who recalled the birth of the new denomination.
The article’s title reminds one of Jesus’ words in Mark 9.1: “I tell you the truth, there are some standing here who will not experience death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.” The original witnesses to the new manifestation of God’s kingdom, in the church, have long passed away.
Denominations count their beginnings with human leaders, names, and doctrines. They started in places far from the city of Jerusalem, just as the UMC started in Dallas, TX. None of them bear the marks of the church born of the Holy Spirit, by the will of God, on the day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2.
The UMC contains many fine people who have the best of motives. But it is not the Lord’s church. Mergers will never attain the unity of the Spirit. A denomination, no matter how large or well intentioned, falls under the censure of Scripture for its departures from Jesus’ teaching and for its contribution to division.
Blessed are those who belong to the Lord’s church which began in Jerusalem sometime in the decade of the 30s of the first century. Let us humbly embrace the teaching of Christ and be true Christians who obey him in all things. Let us abandon manmade divisions and be added to the number of the saved in the church of Jesus Christ.