Encouraging. Rebuking. Do Some Good.
“I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.”
Titus 3:8b (NIV)
This has been an eventful week for those of us pressed along the East Coast of the United States. Pope Francis made a historic visit to three cities – Washington, New York, and finally Philadelphia (for some reason) – and most people seemed absolutely excited and moved by his presence.
But some folks were less than impressed. You can guess how pumped up any one person may have been based upon a few factors. Let me break it down for you:
- If you are a conservative-leading non-Catholic Christian, you probably rolled your eyes at his arrival and perhaps watched some Fox News pundits lambast it.
- If you are a non-or-less-religious liberal, you probably posted a few memes on your Facebook, declaring him the best Pope ever, and applauding his focus on immigration and help for the poor.
- If you are a true Catholic, you probably have mixed feelings and have said nothing about it.
- If you are a liberal, sort-of Catholic, this was your JAM.
I do find Pope Francis inspiring, because he strikes at a Christian morality that seems to line up quite nicely with what I have been reading. Honestly, in these 11 months, I have found a ton to like about the Christian faith. I love its disregard for monetary wealth, and how it encourages us to help one another. The non-judgmental ideal feels particularly right, and I love that we are meant to accept those who seem “beneath” us. These are good values.
And it seems like this Pope gets a lot of those aspects. But then I remembered:
The Pope isn’t Christian.
At least, that is what I was taught growing up. I have never spent any amount of time experiencing the Catholic religion, so forgive any misassumption I may make in the following lines, but I was taught to disregard these individuals as “Christians” as they believe in a doctrine based more on confession and works than by faith. And this viewpoint amongst Christians is far from dead. My own family member got on a soapbox on Facebook about it, saying that we shouldn’t be praising the Pope during this visit as his beliefs are dead wrong.
But Pope Francis… He’s doing some good in the world… right?
It doesn’t count without faith.
This has always bothered me. Paul sums up my concern in his letter to Titus. He says, “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure.” (1:15a) Yeah, THAT has bothered me – that nothing at all is good without faith to back it up – that a person cannot be moral without God.
And to take the inverse, a man can be faithful in God and go against all of His spoken beliefs, but be fine in the eyes of most Christians.
I don’t get that. Just like I don’t get why so many Christians dislike the Pope, and why they believe he is a fallen individual.
Because I don’t know… I see him doing some good.