Should We be Surprised?
by C. Donahue
The alarming news -- once again -- of pedophilia, homosexuality and fornication by clergy in the Catholic church is sending new ripples of shock waves through Christians and non-Christians alike. We have been left scratching our heads and asking, "How can this be? If we can't trust the church leaders who represent God who can we trust?" We can only be surprised by this if we don't know the truth that Jesus shared with the disciples of his time but also to us.
THE WARNING SOUNDED LONG AGO BY JESUS
From the start of his ministry Jesus warned everyone that true and false, right and wrong, good and evil would walk alongside one another. Jesus told us a parable in Matthew 13:24-30 that is often referred to as the wheat and the tares. A farmer planted a healthy crop of wheat. But in the night, an enemy planted in the same field a seed they called tares. It was a weed looking just like wheat. The farm hands wanted to know if they should try to pull out the tares. But Jesus said, "No, let them grow together until the harvest when they could be more easily recognized and pulled out from the good wheat and then destroyed."
Jesus also tells us about the good shepherd, and the false shepherd or the thief. He warns us to watch out for false prophets who would be prophesying at the same time as true prophets. "Watch out that no one deceive you," Jesus said, and continued there would even be false Christs looking like him but trying to deceive.
Jesus had the worst condemnation for religious leaders who spoke in His name but acted for their own power and glory and good. He called them hypocrites and said, "These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men." (Mark 7:6-7, The Bible)
Jesus is alerting us to the fact that there is a true church and a false church and it's up to us to seek out the truth.
WHO OR WHAT ARE YOU FOLLOWING?
Who or what are you following? Jesus said, "Follow me." A true follower of Jesus is aligning his life with a risen Savior, not a group of people. Jesus said, "Come to me." He wants relationship not attendance in a building. Jesus said, "Abide or live with me." He wants us to walk through our every minute in partnership with himself. He's not looking for a token hour on Sunday. Jesus says, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me." (Revelation 3:20) If you choose to open the door you open it to a dear person who loves you and wants to share life with you. You don't open the door to an institution.
OUR PLUMB LINE
The life of Jesus is our plumb line for knowing the true church. If something doesn't look like Jesus then it's not His true church. The exposing of recent sin within the church by clergy is a sifting of the tares from the wheat. The wheat still stands and what is left should look like Jesus. If it doesn't, then that too is false. Don't be surprised by the sin within the church, the lies spoken by government officials, the atrocities of men towards each other. Instead, be on guard, be watchful and stay close to Jesus so that you can know truth from error. Who knows but that our lives are for "such a time as this" (Esther 4:14b). We are to be lights shining in an increasingly dark world that will point others to Jesus.