I’m not a Roman Catholic, nor do I think Pope Francis is the antichrist (or Obama, or whoever your latest villain is). Let me start there.
This post continues the “unity of the faith” theme of my last post.
Previously, I had mentioned the 1999 agreement between Roman Catholics and Lutherans to repair the centuries-old rift between them. Just this week the Pope was in Istanbul patching up things with the Eastern Orthodox Church, going back to 1054 AD.
So, is he the real deal or does this prove that he’s the “Last Pope” and the Beast in Revelation? (Said with tongue firmly in cheek.)
I say this because when I was researching this subject I came across several videos from the latest Pope-demonizers. It would be humorous entertainment if it weren’t so annoying, misguided and even downright slanderous. It was mostly poisonous fear-mongering filled with sound bites taken out of context.
It’s true that you see what you want to see, based on the interpretative lens by which you read Scripture. Especially, when it comes to an obsession with lurid end-times conspiracy theories.
We’re too often like naughty children who don’t play well with others. If they don’t believe like we do, we stamp the “false prophet” or “antichrist” labels on them with impunity. It’s irresponsible and certainly doesn’t reveal the heart of the Father. After all, these are our brothers and sisters in the faith.
How will the world know us and see His glory?
Is this how Jesus said we would be identified in this world? By our doctrinal purity and lock-step agreement? Or worse, by what we’re against? We need to take what Jesus said and prayed to heart (bold-type added)…
“By this all will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35 NKJV)
“that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me,
and I in You; that they also may be one in Us,
that the world may believe that You sent Me.
And the glory which You gave Me I have given them,
that they may be one just as We are one:
I in them, and You in Me;
that they may be made perfect in one,
and that the world may know that You have sent Me,
and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:21-26 NKJV)
It’s pretty clear here that our effective witness in this world comes from abiding in Christ in the Father’s love, and from our love for one another that flows out from this union. Conversely, John also said that when we hate our brother we prove to everyone that we don’t know God and walk in darkness (1 John 2:9-11).
I’m a discerning person and it seems to me that that Pope Francis is genuinely attempting to show this love for his fellow brethren in the body of Christ. I mean, come on, give me a break–we should know he’s not the antichrist! He believes in the Cross, the Father and the Son (see 1 John 2:22)–Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and sole basis of our righteousness. Hello???
I’ve included a short video clip from Pope Francis for this reason. It was recorded on an iPhone by Episcopal Bishop Tony Palmer for the purpose of greeting the people at a Kenneth Copeland Conference last year (sadly, Bishop Palmer died in a motorcycle crash in July).
You can watch the full conference message where Bishop Palmer explains how this all came about here. I highly recommend you watch that too. He was truly a special person. I think it will greatly encourage you. Here’s some excerpts from Bishop Palmer’s messsage about this unity that Jesus prayed for…
“I’ve come to understand that diversity is divine; it’s division that’s diabolical…
…It’s the glory that glues us together, not the doctrine…the glory is the presence of God, and if you accept that the presence of God is in me, and the presence of God is in you, that’s all we need…
…therefore, Christian unity is the basis of our credibility…Division destroys our credibility.”
All I can say is AMEN. He said so many good things. Again, watch it. 🙂
Unity of the Spirit, not the spirit of unity
I’m not talking about holding hands around the globe and singing Kumbaya in some contrived ecumenical movement of men here. I’m talking about basing our relationship on the presence of God in us rather than doctrinal agreement.
There’s a big difference between the spirit of unity and the unity of the Spirit (Eph.4:3) The former is what religious orphans do; the latter is the outcome of sonship.
The unity of the faith shows spiritual maturity
I talked about how divisiveness only proves our spiritual immaturity in my last post. This is why God gave us the equipping gifts–not so we become scripturally arrogant and divisive, but to grow us up into Christ and attain the unity of the faith (bold-type added).
“And He personally gave some to be apostles,
some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,
for the training of the saints in the work of ministry,
to build up the body of Christ,
until we all reach unity in the faith
and in the knowledge of God’s Son,
growing into a mature man with a stature
measured by Christ’s fullness.” (Eph.4:11-13 HCSB)
It’s until we not only believe in Jesus, we believe like Jesus. I don’t think we’re there yet. And until we get this, we won’t show the world the Father’s glory that Jesus talked about. Our credibility will always be undermined by our spiritually immature need to constantly be bickering over our differences.
So, here’s the video clip. I think you’ll see that the Pope’s intent here is clearly heart-felt, to bridge the long division between our heavenly Father’s children (Mal.4:6).
To that, I say, amen.