In his famous 1754 political cartoon titled “Join or Die”, Ben Franklin enjoined the divided colonies of America to come together and fight their common enemy.

Presbyterians, Baptist, Catholics and even a few Quakers took seriously Franklin’s call to fight for freedom. They put aside generations of religious hatred toward one another and donned the common uniform of the American revolutionary.  Men of every religious stripe chose to fight side-by-side for the cause of freedom.

The willingness of Men to lay aside denominational differences and fight, and die, for a shared cause created one of the greatest nations in the history of mankind.  And while the American Revolution unified a nation, it did not unify the disperate factions of the Church.

My concern is not the existence of denominations because their existence is not the barrier to a Christian union. The problem is the unwillingness to unify around something greater than denominations—the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As Christians, we do not need to abandon our historical distinctive, but we do need to set aside any tradition that would keep us from joining together with other Christians for the cause of YHWH’s Kingdom.  Ben Franklin’s cartoon has meaning this Memorial day for the Church in American that is slowly fading in size and influence.

Regardless of tradition, the Good News of Jesus Christ must be the rallying cry for every Christian.  We must join or die.

Ephesians 6:12-13 (NIV)
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Dr. J.R. Miller is a Professor of Applied Theology and Leadership & Dean of Online Learning at Southern California Seminary. Outside work, he is a church planter. Dr. Miller has a diverse educational background and authored multiple books on church history, biblical theology, and Leadership. Joe and his wife Suzanne enjoy the sun and surf with their 3 sons in San Diego, CA.

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