by James Washington
Special to the NNPA from the Houston Forward Times
At times, it is ironic to me that so many different churches profess the belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, was crucified, died and was buried to arise again on the third day and sits at the right hand of His Father in heaven. From Catholic to Pentecostal, from Baptist to Presbyterian, from Episcopalian to Methodist, from Church of God in Christ to Lutheran, from Evangelical to just being saved, each denomination wants to set itself apart from the others based upon its doctrine being more in line with God than any of its Christian cousins. Throughout history so called Christians have persecuted other so called Christians in the name of being more in tune with God’s Word than that denomination being persecuted. It’s just the more I read the bible the more confusing this becomes, or the more ridiculous.
As a point of reference in my own faith walk, one of the things that got in my way was the decision about which church to actually join. I was introduced to rural Baptist traditions by my grandmother, only to be baptized Catholic as a young boy and subsequently not follow any particular religion most of my adult life. Even now I sometimes question which church I should attend only to have the Lord backslap me with the fundamental question, “How does where you go to church have anything to do with my Son’s ministry?” When you actually think about it, do you really believe God is paying attention to the marquee of the church you attend? Do you really believe that where you go to church on Sunday carries more weight with God than what you do on the other six days of the week? When I get confused on this issue, I’m reminded to pick up a bible and rekindle the notion that faith is an internal measurement that refuses to succumb to external pressures. In this instance the external pressure is manmade and not God sent. For those who believe their religion or theology is better than someone else’s, they surely have missed the entire point of the life and times of one Jesus Christ. My reading of scripture confirms for me, maybe not for you, that Jesus was anti-theology and pro faith. I mean we are talking about someone who rather angrily turned over tables in the Temple because He was insulted by the goings on there; something to do with not using his Father’s house for prayer, but rather as a den for robbers.
Everything Jesus stood for seems to translate into acts of faith, acts of worship, acts of love and kindness and forgiveness and yes, acts of mercy. These acts don’t confirm for one moment that one person’s religion is better or more meaningful than the religion practiced in the church up the street or around the corner. If Jesus was alive today, would you be Sadducees of Pharisees? Would you be Jew or Roman? Would you be a member of the Sanhedrin? Either way, if you were not carrying out the will of God the Father, you more than likely would have problems with God the Son. You see the Law, your religion, your theology will be forever secondary to the will of God. Now I didn’t say this. Jesus did. In closing let me confirm that there is no better place to follow the simple edict, practice what you preach, than in church. Which church is actually quite irrelevant as I see it. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10.
May God bless and keep you always,