Firstly I’d like to apologise for the delay in my follow up post. I will do what I can to update my blog consistently at least once a week.
This past week I attended my university church’s camp which focused on God’s rage and his passion in the Bible. My eyes were opened to matters I’d never even considered and how significant Jesus’ death on the cross really was. It shook me to the core and I can feel that I’ve been changed deep within me. The teachings were practical and heartbreaking at the same time and they appealed to all ages and all denominations or so I thought.
On the second to last evening the talk took a turn for the worse in two ways for me. It seems that wherever I go where I just want to blend in as a fellow believer in Christ there will always arise some form of comparison. For about twenty minutes to a good half hour I had to endure why Catholics aren’t regarded as Christians. The speaker admitted that ‘the church and Catholics’ agree on a lot of things for the most part but different standings on the matters of blood and forgiveness of sins and a few others. It was one of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life. From being one of the group who the other hundred or so people was eager to learn about I felt like all backs had been turned from me, they were all saying I was wrong, I had become less Christian than the ducks in the lake. In that moment not only did I turn up my internal defence system but I also risked turning away from the God I had come to adore days before.
What hurt me most was how these people were being taught that some Christians aren’t Christians and having a list of their faults fed to their hearts. Sometimes I genuinely wonder if Christians know that they are Christians because the Bible said that others would be able to identify us by our love. Where is the love when you’re educating others and leading them to believe that someone can’t be like you because they believe differently? We read the Bible. We attend church. We praise God. We believe in the Trinity and that this world and this life is merely an introduction to a greater eternal life where God may finally receive the praise he most rightly deserves.
I understood some matters I suppose. The issue of ‘good works’ is always a hot topic amongst people who may not fully understand Catholic ways. Obviously it isn’t like the ancient Egyptians where we have to lead a super good life and at the end of it the god Ra places our heart on one side of the scale and a feather on the other to see whether you’re worthy to move on to the afterlife. What would the point of Jesus’ dead on the cross have been then? During the seminar sessions we looked at various Bible passages and James 2:22 & 26 caused quite a stir which I just didn’t understand. It says “You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was perfected…For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead”. People just couldn’t understand why this was written there and what it meant and that made me a little sad. Do some people believe that Catholics just pull ideas out of their bums and cross their fingers that it makes sense? To me, and with my background, these verses meant that faith is highly important but it’s necessary to act with that faith. This is where you would bring in a couple of my favourite verses; “Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you”, “Love one another as I have loved you” and “Love your neighbour as you love yourself”. There’s a great focus on expressions of faith and love, that may be in serving the church or community or donating clothes or leading a life like Jesus (he taught, healed, cared, explained, etc). What’s wrong with having good morals and acting on your faith? Obvioulsy it would need to be sincere otherwise you’re no better than the ancient Egyptians. Do good without expecting good to be returned to you. Jesus did so much good and yet he was beaten and tormented and even today hundreds of people reject his existence. He did good because he loved us that much so what’s wrong with wanting to live like him?
There’s also the matter with confession. It breaks my heart when I hear what people think confession is about. The priest can’t forgive sins. He can’t cleanse you of your sins.Everyone knows that God and God alone can forgive sins. The priest serves the purpose of giving advice and praying for you with you to God. Yes, Jesus died to cleanse us so that all sins are forgiven but that doesn’t mean you can ignore your sins or sweep them under the carpet and hope no one knows. It’s important to come to God and own up to what you did. The same speaker from the camp urged us to find someone we trust and admit to sins we’re struggling to combat so that we can pray together.That’s exactly what confession is about; a fellow child of God praying with you to God that he may forgive our sinful nature and give us the strength to not stumble again.
Back to the matter at hand, why is it that time is spent telling people that some people are Christians while others aren’t? It makes me wonder when people say that the number of Christians is decreasing or stagnant in some places and they don’t know why. Would you join a soccer team where the members say that the goalkeeper isn’t a soccer player becuase he can hold the ball and doesn’t run as much? Would you join an orchestra where the members say the flutes aren’t instruments because you blow into them to make music? No one will run to join a group which is divided against itself. At the same time why is it a debate against Catholics/Protestants and yet every other denomination within Christianity is left untouched? There are the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons who are questioned at times but aside from these four are all the other denominations in impeccable condition? Why then leave them untouched? Why be subjective in your judgement?
I am doing my best not to judge here because judgement is for God alone but what I’m trying to say is we should celebrate and be united through our similarities instead of educating others to look down on others because of our differences. Instead of wasting time trying to pick who fits in and who doesn’t we should be using that time to pray or thank God or praise Jesus or spend time with the Holy Spirit. There are so many better things we could be educating others on instead of creating rifts between ourselves. Let’s be brothers and sisters in Christ and glorify the Lord instead of looking at each other with contempt and animosity.
May God Bless everyone, those who believe in him and those who do and bring uniting peace over all those who live for Jesus regardless of their differences.