However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. (1 Pe. 4:16)

The history of the church is rife with names: Benedictines, Franciscans, Jesuits, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Pentecostals, etc, etc, etc. But what is in a name? Why do we label groups of people (or self-label ourselves)? Why do we call ourselves “YWAM’ers” or say that we are “part of the Vineyard”? What is the purpose and goal of such language?

Identity.

The design of a name is descriptive of identity. It is used to create and define meaning, purpose and function, from which we ultimately derive significance. I believe the reason the church has created so many sects over the centuries has been because of a perverted identity in Christ. Rather than identify ourselves simply as “Christians”, we must identify with the beliefs, character, charisma and zeal of men other than the one Man who deserves all allegiance, honor and glory.

There are other names that are used in the Scriptures to identify believers: “sons of the kingdom” (Mt. 13:38), “children of the resurrection” (Lk. 20:36), “sons of the light/day” (1 Thess. 5:5; Jn. 12:36), “the body of Christ” (1 Cor. 12:27; Eph. 4:12), “the family of God” (1 Pe. 4:17) , etc. These are not arbitrary theological descriptions. They are designed to give meaning, identity and purpose to believers in light of their destiny. Because it is one’s destiny that ultimately informs identity, and it is identity that creates significance.

It is the return of Jesus, the resurrection, and the hope of a new heavens and new earth that ultimately define who believers are. It is the Day of the Lord that gives our lives real meaning and purpose. It is our inheritance that tells us what it actually means to be a “child of God” (Rom. 8:15-17). It is our destiny that gives us significance, not the artificial names of men, not the artificial structures of men, not the artificial self-image media presentations of men. These are destined to be consumed by fire.

I’m not a Methodist. I’m not a Baptist. I’m a Christian. It’s not a matter of “non-denominationalism”. It’s an issue of identity. And Jesus is jealous for the heart of his people, that they would belong to him and no other.