Posts Tagged ‘Vatican’

In September, Pope Francis fired a Paraguayan bishop accused of sheltering a pedophile. Francis said his decision to fire the bishop was incredibly difficult. However, it was necessary for “the greater good of preserving the unity of the local church.” Pope Francis’ decision to fire the bishop underlines his “zero tolerance” approach to sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis followed up on his zero tolerance as he launched a blistering attack on the Vatican bureaucracy Monday, outlining a “catalog of illnesses” plaguing the church’s central administration, including a “narcissistic pathology of power, existential schizophrenia.” The pope also denounced the lust for power of ladder-climbing clerics—those who indulge in hypocritical double lives, and lamented a sense of “spiritual Alzheimer’s” that leads clerics to forget the joy that is supposed to animate their lives. He was especially critical of cliques that enslave their members and become a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body, eventually leading to “death by friendly fire.”

Many would argue that the same could be said about our own political leaders. But remember, we’re the ones who voted them into office. Are our own religious leaders guilty of the pope’s accusations? And what about us? Are we also suffering from spiritual Alzheimer’s?

2 Peter 1:5-9 tells us to, “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

We are told that the Christmas season is a time for faith, goodness, joy and godliness—that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” And yet, our lives are plagued with greed, jealousy, hate, violence and discord—just the opposite of what Peter tells us we should possess as Christians! Have we forgotten that as Christians we possess all of the godly qualities that Peter speaks of?

James chapter 4 gives us the reason AND the solution for all of the hate that is plaguing our communities. The reason: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

The solution: “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

Pope Francis suggested that his prelates examine and improve themselves. Should we not do the same?

If ever there was a time to pray for revival in the Church, it is now! May this Christmas season fill us all with a resolute spirit to seek God and His righteousness and love for our fellow human beings.

My heavenly father, I am crying—crying for the hurting—crying for the haters. I am crying from seeing people killing one another. Please hear my prayer! Help us stop all the hate on earth! Please give us peace again. Please look at these people killing and being killed and show them your mercy! Let us return to the God of our fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Please hear my prayer and do what you think is good. Amen.

 

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A tug-of-war at the Vatican intensified Thursday, Oct. 16th over calls for the Catholic Church to be more open to gays and cohabiting couples as conservative bishops sought to rein in or renounce language they feared might condone lifestyles not in accord with Church teachings. A final report was epitomized by the re-translation in the text that reads: “Are we capable of providing for these people, guaranteeing them a place of fellowship in our communities?”

Many conservative Christians are up in arms over the fact that the Pope is considering providing homosexuals a place of fellowship in his churches. And yet, these same Christians seem to overlook the more dangerous aspect of this ruling—allowing unrepentant sinners to be included in the Church community.

Contrary to popular belief, homosexuality is NOT the thing that God hates the most.

“There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” (Proverbs 6:16-19) Isn’t it interesting that homosexuality is not even mentioned as one of the seven things that God hates?

The Bible tells us, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” (1Cor. 5:12-13)

But in the preceding verse, the apostle warns us that anyone who CLAIMS to be a Christian but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler, we’re not to even to associate with such people.

I firmly believe that those in the Church should not judge or reproach those outside the Church who are unrepentant, but I also believe that all believers should take responsibility for those who do not repent from public sin that bring reproach on the name of Christ.

The great revivalist, Charles Finney is quoted as saying, “When the Church finds its members falling into gross and scandalous sins, then it is time for the Church to awake and cry to God for a revival of religion.”

The Church used to be an uncompromising beacon of light to this darkened world. So when did it change?

Years ago I had a conversation with some people who were discussing how to get more unsaved people to come to church. They were shocked when I said, “You don’t.”

I’m not suggesting that we place guards at the door of the church and check people for salvation, but I don’t encourage people to invite unrepentant sinners into a church service either. Here is the reason why:

“This is what the LORD Almighty says: Ask the priests what the law says: If someone carries consecrated meat in the fold of their garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, olive oil or other food, does it become consecrated?  The priests answered, “No.” Then Haggai said, “If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?” “Yes,” the priests replied, “it becomes defiled.” Then Haggai said, “So it is with this people and this nation in my sight, declares the LORD. Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is defiled.” (Haggai 2:11-14)

Let me paraphrase in modern terms what Haggai was saying. If a person smells fresh and clean who had just showered hugs a skunk, would the skunk start to smell better, or would the person begin to stink? And if a person was hospitalized for a highly contagious disease and a healthy person came to visit them, would the sick person get better, or would the healthy person become sick? This is what has happened to God’s Church and our nation!

It began oh so subtly. First we thought, “Let’s bring the unsaved into our church service so they can hear the gospel.” Then we said, “Let’s make them feel more part of our church and let them greet people at the door.” Then we said, “Let’s let them teach a Sunday school class.” And now we have pastors who have been convicted of sexual immorality, idolatry, slander, drunkenness and defrauding their congregation of money! It seems as if the devil himself has been invited to church!

Some have told me that they invite unsaved people to church so that they can hear the gospel. To those people I say that they need to repent of their laziness! Because Luke 14:22-23 says WE are to go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in…So that God’s HOUSE may be filled. Not our church building, but that GOD”S HOUSE may be filled.

Sermons and Bible teaching do not save people. Only God’s Spirit convicts and saves the sinner. I know of many people, (myself included) that were saved outside of a church building. I know of one man who was saved in the middle of a Led Zeppelin concert!

Realistically we can’t keep unsaved people from coming to a church service. But we need to allow God’ Spirit to bring them in and not some evangelistic program. Throughout the New Testament, the early Christians met with one another to worship together, to learn together and to disciple one another. Everywhere Paul went, he raised up churches that were eager to share their faith and zeal with one another. But nowhere in the New Testament does it mention anyone inviting unrepentant sinners to be part of the Church.

So let’s stop judging those outside the Church and start examining ourselves INSIDE the Church. I pray that God will send a spirit of conviction and repentance to His Church and give her the courage to change the world!