…When people find out I am a cleric, the FIRST THING they ask me is “What Church do you belong to?”…AS IF IT MATTERED SO MUCH!
In this cleric’s humble opinion there is only ONE ‘Church’…GOD’S CHURCH….no need to put a label on it like “Protestant” or “Baptist” or “Catholic”… it is the Church established by His Son…the one that reads The Word…the one that professes a belief in LIFE ETERNAL THROUGH HONESTY AND FAITH….it has NO NAME OTHER THAN ‘CHRISTIAN’.
The reason I say this is because people get hung up on a NAME of a thing, and argue, fight, rant, or cause strife over a simple thing..not WHAT you are, but HOW you pray or kneel before God.
I covered the basics of other faiths in my last sermon, and if you read it you will realize that WE ALL WORSHIP THE SAME GOD…so we should all be working for the SAME GOAL…SELF salvation through faith…not trying to bully others, or belittle THEIR faith.
If The Crusades had not happened there would be no conflict in the middle east…there would not be untold violence because of not worshiping the same as others, nor would their be such animosity towards each other OF THE SAME FAITH.
Peace, or so I am told, is where others work together to ensure EVERYONE lives a life of goodness or kindness….not cramming doxology down another’s throat, nor persecuting them for not following YOUR belief system.
If we set aside the “self” we understand this.
The Rules were set down by Jesus…simple, easy to follow, and not hard to enact….
“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
There is no commandment greater than these.” -Mark 12:28-31
…AGAIN He says it through His disciple John….
“A new command I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” -John 13:34
Is it so hard to understand? Is it so hard to DO??
He did not say “Love ONLY your fellow Christian”….nor “Love ONLY your fellow (insert church name here)”….HE SAID EVERYONE…REGARDLESS of what church they attend, or belief system they invoke the name of God under….
PEACE….a small word with BIG meaning….
And how do we enact this peace? What can WE do to bring it to fruition?…The answer is surprisingly simple….LOVE.
“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” -1 John 4:11-12
See? Simple, yes? Apparently not…for some cannot see past the limits of their doxology long enough to see THEY are violating God’s law….not the person being pounded by a Bible….THEY THEMSELVES who preach “Love” and “Peace” and yet slander (yes, ANOTHER violation of God’s Law) others whose faith is not of their own….
Should it MATTER, I mean REALLY matter, what church they attend? Should it matter that a person, such as myself, PREACHES PEACE in the name of God and yet HAS NO “Church”??? Did JESUS have a Church? (other than the Temple at Jerusalem, that is)
No, He preached to EVERYONE…telling of God’s Love….God’s Laws… That WE should love each other accordingly REGARDLESS of whether we are Christian, Muslim, Jew….
Jesus was regarded as a rebel, even in THOSE TIMES…He ate with sinners, tax collectors, soldiers, people the “Established” Religion of the times thought UNWORTHY….
“While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.
When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” -Mark 2:15-17
“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.
But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Then Jesus told them this parable:“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?
And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.
Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” -Luke 15:1-7
Where am I going with all of this then?
We, as Clerics and Christians, should be trying to EMBRACE the “lost sheep”….the “sinners”…the “Tax Collectors” of this world… we should be trying to say “Look, I know your not of MY church, but here…listen to what Our Lord says….”
We cannot sit by and say that peace can ONLY be achieved by pulling everyone into OUR church….nor by saying politicians need to do something about this war….WE should be embracing others…WE should be telling politicians “END THIS NOW”…
PEACE is a word…a concept..but it BEGINS WITH US….our actions as Christians towards others determines peace…brings about peace… enables dialog, promotes understanding and tolerance, ensures NO ONE gets “lost” along the way.
People come at me hard for being a “sinner and tax collector” and for associating with those same types…but I tell you this: When I stand before The Throne, prostrate in the presence of my Master, I can say to Him with a CLEAR CONSCIENCE that I tried to follow His orders TO THE LETTER…
If I have to let someone go from a social network (unfriend, block, or remove) it is because they will not open their eyes or heart and see that THEY need to look inside their Bible CLOSER and read HIS WORD, not the words of MEN..not rhetoric, doxology, or dogma…HIS words…and then APPLY them.
It may not be the popular ideology, but it is the RIGHT one…it may lead to them LEAVING their church, but then again, it will save THEIR soul…
To bring about Peace you HAVE to be a rebel, HAVE to step outside of the accepted lines of “churches” and SEE…really SEE…what He meant when He said
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” -Romans 13:8
I wish you Peace….Peace be with you, in you, around you, beside you, and near you….
Fra. J.L. Wallace…