I am a Christian Pastor, and I have been a Christian since the earliest years of my life.
I wish I could honestly say that I “inherited” the Christian Faith like in the case of most of my Christian brothers and sisters… But I didn’t. I had the honor and the burden of a God-consciousness that was always present, even from my early days in the crib. My parents were not religious (I was born out of wedlock) and they didn’t go to church. And yet, it seemed that I was always immersed in an awareness that God was real and that he loved me.
I have very vivid memories of my guardian angel; a little boy that used to look like me, having me chase him between the kitchenette and living room of our Brooklyn apartment. I also had many experiences with demons appearing to me. I have heard demonic voices since I was a little boy… especially when I am beginning to fall asleep. I have also seen and experienced miracles. I have experienced the power of persistent prayer and I have also experienced major spiritual defeats and setbacks.
My mind and soul are not designed for the average constrictions that the over 40,000 Christian denominations have to offer. I believe in the Universal (catholic) Creeds of the Church of Jesus Christ, in the historical Church Councils and in God’s holy will, as expressed through the natural order and Holy Scripture. I believe that the Bible’s message is inerrant and that it contains in written form, God’s infallible and ineffable will. Although I believe this… I try not to fit God in my little interpretive boxes that make me feel comfortable. God lies beyond my mind, and I will never be able to grasp him beyond what he decides to disclose about himself.
Conservative AND open-minded?
These points of convergence make me an excellent “conservative” Christian until it comes to the denominational points that divide us as a body of believers. To be honest… I really do not care for them. If you are baptized into Christ Jesus…and you believe in the basic doctrines of the Faith, as expressed in the historical Creeds, then you and I are family.
Beyond that, the points that separate us are familial, in-house debates comparable to debating about the amount of spice we should sprinkle on a particular dish…or whether we should cook the turkey at 450F for 3 hours or 380F for 4 hours… You might like your steak medium rare…I like it well done. So what? We’re a family…and healthy families disagree and argue all the time.
I do have one concern that haunts me on a daily basis… Christian disunity in the midst of Islamic aggressions.
When the 21 Coptic Christians were beheaded in Libya… The Muslims that murdered them, referred to them as members of THE NATION OF THE CROSS.
They could’ve been Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Pentecostals or Russian Orthodox…and still, they would’ve been murdered simply for being members of THE NATION OF THE CROSS.
If Muslims recognize that Christians are A NATION, then why is it that we cannot?
The Bishops, Superintendents, Presidents and Association Leaders of our Christian denominations do an excellent job keeping the Church separated for menial reasons. Each denomination is like a little fiefdom that excludes other Christian Family members from the Communion Table… Some Christians won’t even pray with other Christians, simply for not agreeing on whether the bread of Holy Communion should be leavened or unleavened.
Think about it… God’s transcendental nature lies beyond our capacity as limited human beings to ever understand it. If we could ever fit God in our little interpretive boxes… he would cease to be God! Yet we dare to exclude one another from Holy Communion, simply because we do not agree on the precise nature of Christ’s presence during Holy Communion.
“…This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in REMEMBRANCE of me.” (Luke 22: 19)
The main reason for the Holy Sacrament is to recall and re-live our Lord Jesus Christ, his teachings, his persona and his great sacrifice for us on the Cross.
Beyond REMEMBERING Jesus and recalling his teachings… everything else we believe about the Holy Sacrament is an opinion that is deduced via our own personal and sociological interpretive lenses. How Jesus is present in the Sacrament is not as important as making him present in our psyche via our remembrance of him.
How sad… The same Christians that recognize that we who are baptized into Christ, have put on Christ (Galatians 3:27), and are part of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13-26), exclude one another, simply because we don’t fall under the same denominational “jurisdiction.” What a shame… that we call the same God, “Our Father,” and yet do not welcome each other at the Table of the one we call OUR LORD.
The Lord’s Supper is THE LORD’S SUPPER. The only literal requirement in Scripture is for the Christian to live a life worthy of communing with Jesus. (1 Corinthians 11:27-29) And if we’re honest with ourselves…we might just recognize that most of us are not “worthy” because of our worldly, double standards.
I confess… it is true that I have a certain degree of empathetic nostalgia for Islam, since its religious fervor reminds me of the Christian Church of the early days before it became the religion of the Roman Empire. A quick glance at the Apostolic Fathers and the Apostolic Constitutions, will convince you that early Christians were almost fanatical in their zeal, in comparison to the average, Western Christian.
While Christianity is waning in the West… Islam is conquering through immigration, procreation, and integration of peoples of all social classes, cultures and races.
Imbedded within the Islamic fabric, is the strategy of unity. Here’s what the Quran says in Surah 30:30-32 (Maulana Wahiduddin Khan translation)-
Devote yourself single-mindedly to the Religion. And follow the nature (constitution) as made by God, that nature in which He has created mankind. There is no altering the creation of God. That is the right religion. But most people do not realize it. Turn to Him and fear Him, and be steadfast in prayer, and do not be one of those who associate partners with God, those who split up their religion and become divided into sects; each one exulting in what they have.
RELIGIOUS UNITY is intrinsic within the fabric of Islam… Converts do not conform their religion to their cultures; they conform their cultures to Islam and seek a unity in religion that transcends the various interpretations of the Quran and the Hadiths.
Its time that Christians around the world begin a grassroots movement based on Christian love. Christian History has demonstrated that the Church of Jesus Christ can no longer wait on its bishops to heal our disunities… As a matter of fact, denominations such as the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod are all too happy building their theological walls and solidifying their “orthodox,” non-essential doctrines.
Its time to unify in the LOVE OF CHRIST as an act of obedience to Jesus’ prayer on the night of his arrest:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17: 21-21
The members of the CHRISTIAN NATION can grow in loving unity, regardless of whether our Bishops and Presidents care for it or not.
The members of the CHRISTIAN NATION can pray for one another, visit and support each other during times of crisis, and unite in community building, where the Name of Christ and the justice of God’s Kingdom prevails above and beyond the non-essential doctrines and customs that divide us as a people.
“If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Mark 3:25
Its time to unite our Christian “House” before it collapses underneath the weight of a fiercely united Islam.