Shepherd and Flock

  

I weep! I am grieved by the suffering of our Christian brothers and sisters due to the scandals of the Catholic Church. I pray that we all keep our hearts and minds on Christ and not on the human beings who have been disgraceful ambassadors of Christ. This attack on the church affects all Christians, not just Catholics. I empathize with our Catholic brothers and sisters who must endure the criticism of their faith due to the horrific acts perpetrated on innocent children. This is unconscionable. Christ has, once again, been crucified by these men. He who loves us beyond what we can imagine, has once again, been nailed to the cross by those who have betrayed Him.

Christian brothers and sisters do not despair! He, who has already been victorious over sin, continues to reign. We are not followers of men, but instead, we are followers of Christ, our Savior. Our faith is established in Him and no one else. Let us all go to Him in prayer. Let us ask for the healing of our own sins and the healing of His church. The evil one seeks to divide us and persecute us. Will we allow Satan to separate us from Christ’s church? The true Church crosses denominational boundaries. It is founded by Christ Himself. Jesus declared that “the gates of Hades will not prevail against it (the church)” (Matthew 16:18). The Church is not a building or a collection of bishops, priests, ministers or pastors. The Church is the body of individual disciples of Christ, who practice His two great commandments to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-38).

John puts it plainly: “Whoever says, “I have come to know him,” but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist; but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection” (1 John 2:4-5). It is the love of God that identifies us as genuine Christians. Therefore, as difficult as it is and as angry as we may feel at the blatant betrayal of all those involved in this scandal and its cover-up, we should pray for the souls of those who knew Christ yet turned away from Him. For them, it would have been better if they had never professed Christ than, as Peter describes it, “It has happened to them according to the true proverb, ‘The dog turns back to its own vomit’” (2 Peter 2:22). The shepherds of the church, those who are in a position to teach the word of God, are responsible for their sheep. If bishops, priests, deacons, ministers, pastors, or any having the responsibility of shepherding Christ’s flock have caused His sheep pain and suffering or caused them to go astray or waiver in their faith, God will hold them personally accountable.

In 1 Timothy 5, Paul counsels Timothy who has been given the responsibility of the church in Ephesus, how to handle the sins of elders or those in positions of authority:

19 Never accept any accusation against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest also may stand in fear. 21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels, I warn you to keep these instructions without prejudice, doing nothing on the basis of partiality.

Those who have perpetrated crimes against children should be reported to the appropriate criminal authorities, so that they may be condemned (rebuked) in the presence of all. They must also suffer the consequences of their criminal acts. As Paul states, there should be no favoritism (partiality) for any elder or representative of the Church. I am confident that Christ will ensure that His Church will value the wisdom in this advice, especially in the cases of such heinous criminal acts.  

 I shed heartfelt tears for those Catholics who are hurting for their church. I, too, am hurting for Christ’s Church. As the Nicene Creed states, I believe in “One, Holy, Catholic (meaning universal), and Apostolic Church.” Once again, it is being persecuted, but it is so much more painful when it comes from within the Church itself. Betrayal is so much more heart-rending. However, we must always remember that we are not followers of men. We are followers of Christ. He needs us now more than ever. Christ teaches us to rise above evil by living our lives as lights to the world. It is the light of His love that people need to see from us. It is our unity as the Body of Christ that will strengthen us.  It is the courage of our convictions and our perseverance through tragedy that will glorify God. Let us pray for the victims who suffer even now. Let us pray that Christ keep and protect each and every one of us from temptation and sin. Let us pray for all our brothers and sisters in Christ.   

Comments

Gus Sapon September 30, 2018 @08:52 pm

Well written Helen. I too believe we are followers of Christ, not man. Though I believe that God will hold those men in robes to a higher standard and they will be held accountable for their sins.

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