I’ve been having trouble lately.
I’ve been going back and forth in my head about denominations. I catch myself wondering why it could be that the “one” Church could have so many divergent viewpoints. Could they all be working for the same goals? And if there is “one” true expression of Christianity, which one is it?
So, earlier tonight I was listening to the greatest band God ever sent to earth, and it clicked. Once again the Grateful Dead have explained a concept to me that had eluded me up until now.
Okay, so that sounds weird. But stick with me.
The Grateful Dead was comprised of (give or take) Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Phil Lesh, and a rotating lineup of others.
Jerry split off at points to form the Jerry Garcia Band.
Bob Weir formed Rat Dog.
Mickey Hart formed Planet Drum.
Phil Lesh formed Phil Lesh and Friends.
And even when they were together, Jerry offered one thing, Bobby offered another. Phil Lesh brought his own spin to the sound. Every member offered something to the group.
But the Jerry Garcia Band was never the same as the Grateful Dead. Planet Drum is not the Grateful Dead. Rat Dog is not the Grateful Dead. Phil Lesh and Friends is not the Grateful Dead.
It’s the same way with church.
The Baptist denomination brings one thing to the table. Presbyterians bring another. Catholics bring something different. And the Greek Orthodox church brings something else. None of these groups on their own make up “Christianity.” Christianity is something synergetic that happens when all of them are figured into the equation.
So, there is this tendency among Grateful Dead fans to merit Jerry over the others, or Bobby over the others, or whoever your favorite is. But no individual is the Grateful Dead. It’s great to have favorites. It’s great to think that one individual resonates with you on a deeper level than the rest. But we can’t mistake that for a belief that that one person makes the band.
The same goes for religion. Do we spend our time trying to convince everyone that the only true way to see faith is through the lens that we see it? I would argue that we have to acknowledge that each individual group has something to bring to the table that is worth listening to. The Body of Christ is a huge band with an ever -rotating lineup of musicians. None of them makes up the whole picture. It is great to find a niche that resonates with your soul and to dig deeper into that area, but not if the cost is being at war with the rest of the “band.”
Sometimes we play harmonies. Sometimes we play dissonance. Sometimes we hit chords together that make even the most dead soul weep with joy. Sometimes we sing off key. But we’re singing together. Whatever it is that we are doing…we are doing it together.
Love is the Word.