I had a conversation with a man the other day and he described himself as a “devout catholic.” He said, “I wasn’t always a devout catholic, but now I am.” He then proceeded to tell me all sorts of things the Catholics believe and why it is the one true church. He brought up Muslims, Buddhists, Church of Christ, Lutherans and etc. He said all of those beliefs trace back to their founders such as Mohammed, Luther and so on. His Catholic church, on the other hand, can be traced all the way back to Peter, the first Pope, and Jesus himself and that is why he is convinced it is the correct one.
While this guy proceeded to talk and talk about these religious differences in all the worlds’ religions; I became increasingly more and more aware as to why I never identify myself according to denominations and other tags and titles.
Even though there are many, many different religions and schools of thought when it comes to God and the truth, most of them seem to have something in common. They all involve mans attempt to perform in some way to become pleasing to God. That is why I always point to Jesus himself because he said, “I am the way, the truth and the life and no man comes to the Father but by me.” There is absolutely nothing I can do to get to God. Either Jesus (God in the flesh) comes to me or I simply am not going.
While this man talked; I kept thinking of Abraham. Abraham didn’t have a church building, book, priest or any apparent set of rules he was following, and yet God counted him as righteous simply because he believed him. The Bible says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Wow! No religion, ritual or law and yet God said Abraham is righteous!
I don’t mean at all to sound irreverent, but if Abraham can be called righteous and not even be a part of a denomination, religion or even have a priest why can’t we? Don’t get me wrong I love the fellowship of other believers and want to gather with them, but I don’t ever think it is required by God for me to be righteous or even to show others I am a believer. No, I gather with others because it is only natural to want to be around others that are like-minded. There is strength and encouragement in being with others. Plus how could someone ever be of help to others, or active in their gifts, if they don’t gather together? So, in no way am I advocating anyone to not go to church. What I am saying is this man came across as though if you weren’t following his way or beliefs you were wrong. I for one am not counting on any set of rules or tradition to get me in right standing with God; I am looking to Jesus and what he did for me not what I could ever do for him.
Let me end with this thought. In the 1st letter to the Corinthians Paul told them they were acting like mere men, infants in Christ. He then told them they weren’t ready for anything deep or meaty because they couldn’t quite handle it yet. He said there was division and strife among them. He said to them “One of you says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos.” Paul knew as long as they were dividing up into teams they were still immature. This is the equivalent of saying, “I’m a Baptist, or I’m a Catholic, Methodist, Church of Christ, Lutheran” and etc. We are encouraged to grow up into Christ which is the head of the body. I am praying for the day when we, like Abraham, will just simply believe God.
Written by Louie