How would life, as you know it, change if churches and faith-based organizations went on strike and no longer contributed to the needs of society? The void of services would sound a mournful echo reverberating with the shock waves of desperation.
An article written by John Stonestreet, calls attention to the significant role Christianity plays in the daily life of the USA. According to Stonestreet:
One in six hospital beds in our country is located in a Catholic hospital. In at least thirty communities, the Catholic hospital is the only hospital in a 35-mile radius. This doesn’t even take into account hospitals run by other Christian bodies such as Baptists, Methodists, and especially Seventh-Day Adventists.
The next time you’re tempted to give a cold should to a warm-hearted ministry, you might want to weigh their heavy presence. The doors of these faith-based organizations swing open to bear the load of the needy to provide food for the hungry, clothing for the impoverished, and a word of encouragement for the frequently despised.
Two engineering behemoths engaged in some tit for tat this week. The two heavyweights were the Pope and the Pompous. In a rare exchange with an American politician, the Pope expressed his displeasure with Saint Pompous—Donald Trump.
Pope Francis said: “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.” I think the Pope meant Trump was not acting in a “Christian” way.
Donald, however, is never one to duck an issue, and he made one out of this when he complained the Pope said he was not “a Christian.”
While I’m not a Catholic, I do know that every Pope has been a priest, but only a handful of priests have ever been the Pope. When the Pope spoke of “building bridges” he defined the meaning of the word priest. In Latin “priest” means “bridge builder,” and several places in the New Testament focus on the work of priests:
- Hebrews 4 speaks of the bridge building work of Jesus, and describes Him as a High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses because He was tempted like we are; yet He remained pure.
- I Peter 2:9 speaks of Christians as a “chosen people, set aside to be a royal order of priests, a holy nation, God’s own; so that you may proclaim the wondrous acts of the One who called you out of inky darkness into shimmering light.”
When I was a kid, I would use either my Lincoln Logs, or erector set to build something. Today, a child is more likely to dump his Legos on the floor and begin piecing them together.
Paul didn’t have Lincoln Logs or Legos, but he did know how to build bridges; and he spoke of this when he wrote to Christians at Corinth:
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Ambassadors for Christ share the story of salvation, and they build bridges of grace for God’s glory. Which story are you telling and what bridge are you building?
If the Independent, London’s daily newspaper, is correct Pope Francis may inspire a new version of the Bible: The Bible According to Jiminy Cricket and Pinocchio.
If you’ve forgotten the story line of this mesmerizing fairytale for children, it focuses on a craftsman named Geppetto, the puppet he made and named Pinocchio, and his desire that his creation would be a real boy.
When the Blue Fairy hears the wish of Geppetto, she works her magic and in a mystical moment, she infuses the wooden puppet with the gift of life. To help him know right from wrong, the Blue Fairy appoints Jiminy Cricket as his conscience: “I dub you Pinocchio’s conscience, lord high keeper of the knowledge of right and wrong, counselor in moments of high temptation, and guide along the straight and narrow path. Arise, Sir Jiminy Cricket.”
In an interview referenced by the Independent, Pope Francis is reported to have said: “Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.” While I have no way of asking the Pope to clarify his statement, it sounds like he’s been dazzled by Disney and wished upon one too many stars.
Are we to believe that as long as a pedophile does not disobey his conscience he is not sinning. What about a sociopath and his conscience? With apologies to Jiminy Cricket and the Blue Fairy, when the conscience goes stag a person is left in rags and unconscious of his spiritual failings.
I know it may sound a little old school and politically incorrect, but Jesus didn’t say, “Let your conscience be your guide.” He said, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish (Luke 13:3).”
After he met with a sex abuse survivor group on Sunday morning, Pope Francis addressed a group of 300 bishops: “It continues to be on my mind that the people who had the responsibility to take care of these tender ones, violated that trust and caused them great pain, and God weeps.”
Another report from last week focused on a culture of corruption that the U.S. Military is reluctant to confront. According to an article in the New York Times, “Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally ‘boy play,’ and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene — in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases.”
When some of our military have intervened, their careers haven been jeopardized. Captain Dan Quinn, a former member of the Army Special Forces, gave an American-backed militia commander a thrashing for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave.
Quinn isn’t the only soldier to be punished. Because Sgt. First Class Charles Martland helped Captain Quinn the Army is trying to forcibly retire him.
Even if “boy play” is culturally permitted and a sign of status in some parts of the Middle East, it doesn’t take much sense to know that it’s morally reprehensible. Whether it’s in the USA, Afghanistan, Russia, or China, people would do well to recognize the love of Jesus for children:
Unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. ~Matthew 18