This Easter, let’s set aside our divisions and practise true religion.

Washing feet

In my youth, it seemed as though entire church denominations were at war with one another. Evangelicals were certain Catholics had it completely wrong. High Anglicans looked down upon low expressions of church. Baptists thought Pentecostals were from another planet. God’s people focussed on their theological differences, rather than the core beliefs that drew them all to the same God. The world looked on in dismay, and quietly retracted any expectation of discovering God through this violent, divided “religion”.

Theology is a funny thing. Each one of us has our own theology, in the same way that we each have our own world view – influenced by our culture, traditions, education, personalities and life experiences. Not one of us can understand the fullness of God in this life – and even if we could, we’d never be able to adequately communicate it to others. It’s ok though – at its core, the “good news” is that God didn’t require us to meet Him on His terms, at His level of holiness and perfection, but that He met us where we were at, at the level we could handle. God is big enough to cope with our inadequate theologies.

Without doubt, the Pope is the most public human face of Christianity worldwide. This year, I am greatly encouraged by the words and actions of Pope Francis, who has, in a very short space of time, challenged both the establishment and the world’s view of the church. I am not a Catholic (although I love and appreciate my Catholic brothers and sisters), but I join Pope Francis in “longing for a poor church, and a church for the poor.”

Outsiders have a point when they blame wars and immoral power struggles on “religion”. However, the Bible writer James had something to say on this matter. He wrote; “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after widows and orphans in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). As Jesus-followers, we have a role to play in bringing justice to the oppressed, hope to the hopeless, love to the unloved, mercy to the fallen, and grace to the disempowered. This year, let us set aside our theological differences and practise true religion, side-by-side – we might find that God’s definition of “religion” is one that nobody can argue with.

7 thoughts on “This Easter, let’s set aside our divisions and practise true religion.

  1. Pingback: The world looked on in dismay… | The Assembling of the Church

  2. Good suggestion but the chance to practice it is very low (in the context of worshipping together). Doing charity for the poor may be acceptable to some Christians but not to all. Human kind is a very complex creature and even God has been condemned to death by His own people. Having said that I do not mean to discourage you and your friends who are ready to drop your weapons of doctrine and be gathered together occasionally to share your faith and friendship, and to do charity in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. You should know that many denominations and non-denominations are rejecting Christmas and Easter, and consider the Catholic Church as the “beast” of Revelation 13 or the “Woman” of Revelation 17.

    • Hi Duc, thanks for your comments. I hope we can worship together – perhaps not in singing, but in working together to bring God glory in this life. Beyond this life, we’ll be living side-by-side, may as well start getting along now!

      When I was a kid, in the days when most Christians thought rock music was evil, Cliff Richard sang a song called “Why should the devil have all the good music?” (and I used to love Cliff Richard in the 80’s – yes, I’m willing to admit it!). I understand why many people are uncomfortable with Easter and Christmas – they have become completely commercialised, and originated from a mish-mash of religious and pagan traditions – but I think God’s people can reclaim them creatively.

      As for interpreting the book of Revelation, I think of it like a superb suspense drama – it’s going to keep us all guessing until the final act has been played out.

      Blessings,

      – Kathleen

  3. An intriguing post… thank you. I live in a predominantly Catholic community, although not a Catholic myself. Even though I’ve made friends with many of them, and consider them friends, I could not address them as “brother” or “sister.” For you see, those terms, “brother” and “sister,” imply a relationship – a family relationship. Although the Catholics I know address God as God, many have no concept of God as their Father, and if they do not know God as their Father, they have no relationship to Him. By extension, they have no relationship (spiritually) to me.

    For you see, if I were to ask any of them, “Are you saved?” I would wager that the person wouldn’t have any idea what I was talking about. (I know, because I have asked them.) If I would ask, “What must I do to be saved?” again, they would not know how to answer that question. So, it may be an interesting experiment to ask your Catholic friends, the ones you call “brother” and “sister” if they knew what you were talking about if you asked them those questions. (They may do so, I don’t know your friends. I would hope they do, but then they would stand out of the crowd from other Catholics, for I’ve come to learn that that terminology is not in their theology, but should be.)

    This is foundational. For us to set aside our “divisions,” we need to share in what we have in common… and that is life — His life. There has to be that, or there is nothing to share. As a disciple of the Lord’s, he wants me to bring the gospel to those oppressed by the devil…and when they accept it, all of the attributes contained in it, follow: eternal life, grace, mercy, peace, love, and all of the riches of His glory which He has blessed us with.

    Now, I may have missed the point of your post. My apologies if I have. These are the thoughts that arose as I read it. God bless…

    • Thanks Ron, I hear what you’re saying about Catholic culture not always equating to Catholic faith. There are many who identify themselves as Catholic to maintain relationship with their cultural background and heritage, without a deep and personal relationship with God. I experienced the same thing when I lived in America for six months – I found a strong “evangelical” culture, which didn’t equate to a deep, personal faith in many of the people I met. As an Australian, I live in a culture which is sceptical and hostile towards Christianity, so most people here who call themselves Jesus-followers are very sincere.

      Ultimately, I’m grateful that God gets to judge at the end of the day. I hope with all my heart that He is far more loving and accepting than I will ever be, and sets the bar lower than I would – I don’t wish to see anyone separated from God for eternity. I know many Catholics who live in such a way that I know God is real in their lives and that they share the same faith as I do, even if the theological details differ. I also feel sure that this new Pope may help to open a dialogue between Catholics and Evangelicals that wasn’t possible in recent history.

      The older I get, the less I want to hold on to the unimportant details, and the tighter I want to hold onto the important stuff – both in life, and theology.

      Thanks again for your thoughts. I hear where you’re coming from,

      – Kathleen

  4. Dear Kathleen,

    It take me some time to get back to your blog because you don’t have a tick-box for following up message. Today I have placed a comment on Alan Knox’s blog, on the subject “Generalisation” (http://www.alanknox.net/2013/04/dealing-with-generalizations-and-the-church/). This is an issue of the human world (not Christian alone). We all know that God has created every man and woman in His image, therefore the relationship and notion of “brother and sister” [in Christ] is already defined by God himself through his work. Jesus has commanded us to love our neighbour as ourselves; he didn’t add an attribute to the subject “neighbour”, did he? Therefore our brethren can be Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Bahia, and even atheist.

    God has created everyone of us very special to Him, and He will judge each person according to his/her heart. Religion is only a subject of this temporary world; in the Kingdom of Heaven (the spiritual world) there will have no such thing as religion, doctrine, denomination, non-denomination, Catholic, evangelical, etc. There will have only LOVE (GOD, Light) and Not Love (SATAN, Darkness).

    Jesus has explicitly expressed that not everyone in this world are called to be in his fold:
    Joh 10:16 “I have other sheep that don’t belong to this fold. I must lead these also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock and one shepherd.”
    But, he will call them in and they will listen to his call. He didn’t say that only those who are in his fold will be saved and those who are not will be lost, did he? Yet, for those who call him Lord, on the judgement day he may say to them: “I never knew you. Get away from me, you who practice evil!” (Mat 7:23).

    My point is, we are “Brother and Sister in Christ” not because we can share something together (doctrine, worship, etc), but because we have one Lord Jesus Christ. And, we have to love one another as ourselves because we are all created by one GOD.

    You sais, ” I hope we can worship together – perhaps not in singing, but in working together to bring God glory in this life.” Here, I have a song without music for you, because I cannot read music, but love singing:

    Worship God with Love

    Offer the best of ourselves to the Lord!
    Offer it promptly from our hearts!
    Do not let the value of the world conquer our hearts!
    Do not let our hearts be flawed by false words!

    Let our hearts live in purity!
    Let our hearts worship God in humility!
    Let our hearts come together with simplicity!
    Let our hearts express themselves with sincerity!

    Love does not make judgments.
    Love does not need good reasons.
    Love does not make distinctions.
    Love does not have preferences.

    We should worship God with LOVE,
    Because it is in love we are justified.
    For love Christ was hung high above,
    That all who believe in Him may find Hope and Life.

    The prompt act of love will uphold our unity.
    Sincere love will keep our life healthy.
    Christ has offered His Blood for our purity;
    That we may be one in His Body for eternity.

    Duc Minh Bui

    Don’t ask me which denomination, or non-denomination I belong to. Just know that I belive in the Lord Jesus Christ as you do.

    May the Lord bless you and bestow His Grace upon you profusely. Amen.

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