Why You Should Care About The Next Pope (a post for non-Catholic Christians)

We were sitting at our dinner table with friends, sharing our stories of conversion. When it was my turn, I told how I came to Christ early on in life while growing up in a dynamic Roman Catholic church. I continued about how my mom later introduced me to Charismatic Catholics, while simultaneously feeding me Moody Radio. I told how three preachers, a Baptist, a Reformed, and a non-denom had shaped my ideas about faith. And then, how evangelical Catholics (they do exist) discipled me through my teen years. And how, as a young adult, I transferred into Protestantism in a Vineyard church (which is, to most, the opposite of Baptist or Reformed). And then shared how friends from Pentecostal, Methodist, and Presbyterian backgrounds had helped me grow in Christ.

One of the friends exclaimed: “That’s an identity crisis right there!”

We all laughed. To a certain extent she is right. I have studied the spectrum of Christian theology. I’ve been involved with many “types’ of Christian faith. Which is why I can say, with boldness, that if you are a Christian of ANY background, you should care about who gets elected to be the next Pope.

I know that some members of the Christian family think that the Antichrist will arise in the form of the Pope. I know some of you are ex-Catholics and want to prove that the church that parented you has no hold on you, and so you stand in apathy as a form of defiance. I know some of you were hurt by the Catholic church – despised, rejected, possibly even abused (to which I mourn with you). I know some of you wish you could wrangle friends and family out of the Catholic church.

BUT

There are about 1.19 BILLION Catholics in the world. Some of them are Catholics in name only. Some don’t have the faintest clue who the God they serve really is. But when you’re talking about A BILLION, you’re talking about a lot of sisters and brothers. Don’t fall to the temptation of shoving them aside. And don’t you dare call them crazy cousins. They believe in the same God as you and profess the same core, essential beliefs you do.

They are going to be led, ultimately, by one man. They will put themselves under his leadership, assuming that he will place himself under the headship of Christ. If he doesn’t, they can be led astray, for sure. But more importantly, the rest of the world is watching. And some are watching to see if, as brothers and sisters, we can be divided all the more.

Sometimes I think we’re so worried about doctrine that we’ve forgotten that we can’t stand when we’re divided. We fear being labeled someone who believes in ecumenism.

Let me be clear on this — the problem with ecumenism isn’t us coming together. It’s in us coming together and saying doctrine isn’t important. It’s dismissing that we should have conversation. Ecumenism is dangerous because it keeps us from learning and growing with one another and being able to take a stand together. It keeps us from exhorting one another to make sure “that no one takes you captive, through philosophy or empty deception.” And that we should also take a stand against our leaders when they lead us “in human tradition, and according to the spirit (waves, beliefs, practices) of the world” and NOT according to Christ (col2:8).

But putting our differences aside and standing for one, holy, perfect God who we believe loved us so much that He sent His only son to die on a cross so that we can have forgiveness of our sins and life eternal with Him? Removing our judgement for a second to agree that He does rule and reign as one who has conquered death and risen from the grave? There’s something holy in that.

In that spirit of worshiping the God who saves, and the God who was raised from the dead, and the God who is ALIVE, let us come together, firmly believing that God hears and cares about what we ask Him for. Let us pray that He chooses someone to lead His people, even if that person won’t lead us. Let us pray for someone who hears His voice and responds. Let us pray, even if our prayer is just a deep plea of “Heaven help them pick someone who is OF You, and who will follow You, no matter the cost.”

Because if we don’t, and they pick someone who isn’t true to Christ, we will divide more. We should care when family splits apart. We should just care.

So, as our Catholic brothers and sisters say,

May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you (hopefully as you pray),

Pam

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11 thoughts on “Why You Should Care About The Next Pope (a post for non-Catholic Christians)

  1. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Matthew 23:9

    There are no denominations in God’s kingdom. You either belong to Christ, not “the church” or you don’t. The pope is just a figure head leading a huge denomination called Roman Catholic, which Jesus never was a part of, and if He were on earth today, I am sure he would tell us to come out of her and follow me.

    Many blessings to you.

    • Toni,
      Thank you for your comment. I don’t believe we should call our leaders father, either. But I don’t hate Catholics, and I don’t dismiss that they’re Christians because they do. I believe Romans 10:9 addresses this. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is LORD and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” I can’t add to what God already said.
      Thank you for reading, and thank you for sharing what you believe. Even if we’re not on the same page, I value that you want to honor God as best you can, and hold to His principles as best you can.
      Love to you, in Christ,
      Pam

      • I guess anyone can use any Bible verse they want to justify being disobedient to our Lord’s commands. Sure, you can confess ur sins, (over and over) but repentence means to turn away from that sin. I have a problem with how anyone can say they love Christ and follow Christ, yet still continue to be disobedient to His Word. Jesus said “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” To me, I think Jesus meant what He said. Christianity is not an emotional game that “religions” like to play. It’s not about holding to His principles “as best you can.” It’s about repenting, being born again and turning away from sin and following His Word, not a man-made religious system and institution.

        Not a popular view in the post Christian and modern Christian era we live in; nevertheless, this is what our Lord expects us to do once we are aware that we are being led astray by a worldly religious system, even in the face of persecution and abandonment by family and friends.

      • Toni,
        I’m going to ask you to do one thing, please. I’m going to ask you to go read Matthew 23. Read it and identify yourself in the passage. And then write me back again. Write me back and tell me if you think the real issue going on in the passage is that people shouldn’t call men fathers or pastors. Tell me what you think Jesus is really instructing about in that passage. I honestly, genuinely, with no sarcasm or judgement, look forward to your response.
        With love, in Christ, our head,
        Pam

      • Pam:

        Well, u didn’t address my comments, but I will address yours.

        If one is led by the Holy Spirit, He will lead u into all truth the Scriptures reveal.John’s Gospel 14:26. John Chap. 16 U won’t need clergy to intepret the literal Words of Jesus for u. Ref. the passage u mention, I believe Jesus meant just what He said, and he does not say anything about a pastor in the passage as u have indicated. No where in all of Holy Scripture is an Apostle or Disciple or follower of Jesus called father and ‘holy father’. There is one mediator between God and man; the man Jesus Christ. 1Timothy 2:5 KJV (not the pope or its institution) None on the Biblical Apostles or followers of Jesus took it upon themselves to elevate themselves on the level of Jesus and God and we are not instructed to do that.

        I don’t think the Holy Spirit inspired instructions were written down for us just to take up space in the Holy Scriptures; they were written down to guide us, and teach us and be obedient to. 2:Peter 1:21, 1 Timothy 3:16 KJV

        See also Luke 6:46-49

      • Toni,
        Please accept my apology. I didn’t answer your question because I sensed that I would have been trying to ‘teach’ you about my own convictions. I’m not for that.. So, I asked you the question about Matthew 23, seeking first to understand what you believe before being understood. From what I can glean from text (tone is everything in conversation), you believe Catholics are not Christians because they keep sinning by calling their leaders “father,” and because they trust their leaders to tell them what scripture means, and because they confess to a leader (as opposed to one another as James 3 would indicate). You further believe that the Pope believes that he is as important/holy as Jesus. And that, Catholics are choosing to follow the pope/bishops/priests instead of following Jesus.
        Am I correct in those conclusions? I need to know before I respond.
        Thank you for your patience with me,
        Pam

      • Hi Pam:
        Let me first tell you that coming from a “catholic” upbringing, I am quite knowledgeable in “catholic” convictions. I have tried to show you what I believe, and that is the Word Of God, which is why I put it forth to you. I can also admit to you that no I was not a Christian while I was “catholic”, but I became a Christian when I was born-again of the Spirit of God and gave my life to Christ, and repented of my sins as Jesus taught. I was hungry for the truth and fed on His Word constantly He immediately revealed the truth of His Word to me as I searched the Holy Scriptures seeking answers to what was missing in my life. Before I became born again, I knew in my heart there was so much more than what the “catholic religion” offered me and taught me, and I found it in His Word. For the first time in my life I felt free. Just as Jesus said,” Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” I no longer felt the burden of sin or the need to confess my sins in a confession ritual with father so and so because now I could go directly to God through my Lord. I was never taught this . The catholic church has rewritten God’s Word, and it contradicts completely with what the Old Testament Prophets were given by the Holy Spirit, and the New Testament Bible writers. All Hebrews and Jews. This is an extremely serious matter. Revelation 22:18-19. All I had to do was obey His Word if I sinned against so and so and go to that person and tell them I was sorry. I didn’t need to do a ridiculous unbiblical pentence to receive God’s forgiveness. He had already forgiven me when He came into my life with His Holy Spirit when I became born-again of the Spirit. Now, God does not expect us to be sinless; only Christ is sinless; however, God by His grace does expect us to sin less. No one who loves the Lord will keep on sinning, but will grow in obedience to His Word because of his/her love for Jesus. Henceforth, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” The jest here is if u want to please and obey God, you must not obey any man or religious teachings or religious system that contradicts the Words of Jesus, His Son. God will hold us each accountable because we are instructed to search the scriptures to see whether the things we are taught are true, as in Paul’s example noted in Acts 17:11.

        I really do not understand why you need to know anything I believe, because the Word of God and Jesus’ words are very easy to understand and simplistic, nor is there any need to be a catholic apologist. I have been in many debates and presented God’s Word to untold numbers of catholics. Most of them, like I was, don’t even know God’s Word. They usually say just because I am catholic doesn’t mean I am not Christian, etc., etc.

        My response is then “come out of her” as Jesus instructed, and obey Him. Revelation 18:4

        As far as ur question concerning the pope, I think I have already answered tha in a previous entry using the Word of God. You must understand that what I am telling you are not my opinions, but is the Word of God that all Christians are to abide by.

      • Toni,
        Your story is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing it with me. I love to hear how God works in a believer’s life.
        You said you don’t understand why I need to know what you believe. It’s for this very reason. I can make assumptions about who you are or what your conversion looks like. But, I would be an ass to do so. Asking questions gets it deep down into me that you are not my enemy, I am your sister in Christ, and reminds me to reason together with you. The question of whether I agree that it’s disobeying Jesus to call a religious leader “father” was never a question for me. I was convicted a long time ago that it’s not a good idea. I also believe that there is one mediator between God and man (JESUS!), that the Holy Spirit teaches us what His word means, that what God says is a sin IS A SIN, and that if you love Jesus, you will keep His commands (not because you have to, but because you want to).
        What we disagree about is whether those who call themselves Catholic are saved or not. Some Catholics are saved. Some are not. Some “christians” are saved. Some or not. I don’t presume to make that judgement. I’m too busy working out my own salvation with fear and trembling.
        When I HAVE to ask if someone is a believer (they’re leading me or my family, they’re asking to join our church, etc.) I can only look at an individual and ask two questions:
        1) Do they believe in the 1 God (in three persons), and that Jesus is LORD?
        2) Do they believe that Jesus has been raised from the dead?
        Then, I can ask if they are exhibiting signs of the Holy Spirit in them (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control).
        Lastly, I can ask if they have love for other believers. (By this they will know that you are my disciples, that you love one another (john 13:35)).
        I find that this usually weeds out those who love God from those who aren’t walking with Him. Anything else, well, that can just be bad theology or ignorance. To which, I hope to have discussion and dialogue with them.
        I hope this makes sense.
        Pam

  2. I admire your respect for our Catholic brothers and sisters. They have my respect and best wishes too, as I have always appreciated their willingness to speak up on behalf of the unborn.

    Blessings ~ Wendy

    • Thank you for your comment, Wendy. I’m thankful for the encouragement. I, too, value both their value for the unborn, and all of life. I love their care for the poor, their focus on educating the young to give better opportunity to families, and their willingness to honor those who are older. They have put emphasis on all of these “life issues” and have been the object of criticism and the butt of jokes because of it. They have my respect, even when I disagree with theological positions. They’ve earned it.

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