So, I know religious division / sects / labeling / denominations / etc, are confusing and frustrating for those who don’t have a faith. They’re also confusing and frustrating for those who do, trust me. Religion is now widely looked at as more of a status symbol or a club affiliation than a relationship with The Almighty Creator.
“I am a Catholic.” Some say. “We are the original faith, 1.2 Billion strong. Revere me.”
“Oh yeah, well IIIIIIII’m a Lutheran. All the taste, half the ceremony.” Other’s retort.
“Well you’re both wrong,” a third religi-sizer interjects, “I’m a Southern-Baptist, Episcopalian, Charismatic, Faith-Healing, Christian-Scientist, with a side of hash browns. Nail that to your church door and smoke it.”
Sadly, I fear many are missing the point. Can’t see the forest through the trees, or maybe more appropriately, can’t see Christ through the stained-glass and incense.
If I had to label myself, I guess I’d say, I’m simply a follower of Jesus Christ, God incarnate whose ultimate once-and-for-all sacrifice made it possible for me to be forgiven for my plethora of continually compounding sins. So you can call me a Christian. I love and believe in Jesus Christ and Him alone. Period.
The reason I’m writing this piece is the fanatic hoopla that has been made over the Pope’s recent and historic visit to the United States. Every news outlet and media service has been focused on his every move. Every facial expression analyzed, every comment debated by political pundits. He dictates the church’s stance on important issues. He says what is forgiven, and what is not. The Pope offers blessings and absolves you from your shameful sins. He is, after all, the leader and head of over one-billion Catholics on planet Earth; is he not?
Is he? Is he really?
Well, my view is no. No he is not. Close your mouth. I know, how could I, right?
The Pope, the position of the Pope, the institution that has been established by the Catholic Church over the last 1600 or so years has been to elevate Men to glory and power using God as a vehicle. The Pope. His holiness. He is simply a man. Like anyone else. He sins just like everyone else. He has impure thoughts just like anyone else. He needs Jesus’s salvation just like anyone else.
He is no closer to God than anyone else. Read the Bible. [F]or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) It doesn’t say some have sinned. Or most have fallen short. All.
The fact that the “Catholic Church” has established a paradigm wherein a human man is the conduit for a “believer” to communicate with God, receive forgiveness, and “earn” salvation by works, or saying “Hail Marys” or penance, is appalling and directly against what the simple message of Jesus states.
The Pope is a man, and from what I’ve seen more of a politician than anything else. He is purporting to speak for God, enacting His will here on Earth. Again, if you read the scripture and listen to the message Jesus preached you will see that the institution of the Pope sounds eerily similar to the Pharisees and Sadducees which Jesus denounced time and time again.
They were the Jewish religious leaders of the time and they stood in between you and God. They were the only way you could communicate with The Lord. They dictated thousands of laws and regulations that you were required to keep under threat of banishment or ridicule, and they elevated themselves above all of their “parishioners” with an air of superiority, advanced social status, expensive and gaudy robes and adornments, and political power.
Sound familiar? Hint, hint. Nudge, nudge.
The truth is we all have a direct connection to God. A Fastpass to the front of the line. The Batphone if you will. All you need do is simply speak to Him. No buffer. No ceremony. No regulations. No ritual. All you really need to do is read the Bible to see that the majority of what occurs in the Catholic Church today is not found in the Scripture. It is nearly two millennia of men adding rituals, and road-blocks, and qualifiers, and restrictions to a relationship with Jesus to ultimately glorify themselves.
The Catholic Church is a business. A big, powerful, corporate business. A business with scratch in the political arena, and with a vested interest in global economics.
Now those raised in the Catholic Faith will be appalled to read this. I’m sure many will have a visceral reaction to hearing THE VICOR OF CHRIST being questioned. That is simply because for many Catholics, it was how they were raised. Its indoctrination at its finest and I get it. How dare I lambaste your Pope? How dare I blaspheme his holiness?
Therein lies the problem. He is not “His Holiness”. He is not holy at all. He is a man. The Lord Jesus is holy. The Lord Jesus is King. The Lord Jesus is in charge. Not Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis, the 266th Holy Roman Emperor elected by the papal conclave by means of the College of Cardinals.
The Pope cannot forgive you. Nor can he, for example, forgive women who have had abortions (for only 1 year, act now) as he recently stated. The Lord Jesus does that of His own accord. He doesn’t need any help… Last time I checked, He was God.
So I guess the point of this rant is… Anything that takes your eyes off of Jesus and His simple message of love, relationship, and salvation from your sin… Is not Biblical.
Religion vs. Faith and Relationship. Religion says look at me to see how to reach God. Faith simply takes out the middle man (which is what Jesus preached all along). By the way, when Jesus breathed His final completely mortal human breath on the cross, Jerusalem was rocked by a jarring earthquake, “[A]nd the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. (Mark 15:38)”. The separation between man and God was torn asunder. No middle man. Its symbolic.
The Pope is a politician. Does he say nice things that are good for the world and the majority of people?
Does he kiss children on the forehead and say beautiful blessings over them?
Is he probably a very nice person who loves God in his own way?
Is he the holy mouthpiece of Jesus Christ whom we must look to for a connection to God?