So I just started reading this really amazing book, Tattoos on the Heart by a Catholic Priest named Gregory Boyle. Granted I am only 27 pages into the book but I am already thoroughly impressed and inspired by his faith, commitment to the Lord, and love for people. Father Boyle works with Latino gangs in Los Angeles and provides them with job opportunities when others would not even waste their time. I think that is pretty cool but that is not what is causing me to blog about this book or Catholicism. What prompts me to write is his authentic relationship with the Lord. And there you have it, I said it, in spite of what many may think and the opinions that many might carry because he is Catholic and I am well…Pentecostal.
Before you form your judgments, listen to this “The hope is that our sense of God will grow as expansive as our God is” (Boyle, 26). And isn’t that really the hope and aim of all of us, regardless of the Christian denomination that we hail from. The Apostle Paul puts it another way, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3.10-11, NASB). If that really is central to all of our theology and by our I mean, Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Evangelicals, etc, what is all of the fighting for? Where is the place for discord and hatred when we are all wanting, desiring to attain the same thing – authentic fellowship with Jesus Christ our Lord!
In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 9 Jesus sent the twelve disciples out to do ministry. Coming back from their ministry endeavors, the disciples had a lot to report including the fact that they saw someone else besides them casting demons in Jesus name (side note: I find this incredibly ironic since it was reported to Jesus that his disciples tried to cast out a demon and could not – food for fodder I suppose). John told Jesus that he and the rest of the disciples tried to stop this other mysterious person from operating as such because they were not apart of their cliche, denomination, posse, crowd, or whatever you want to call it. But Jesus responded that he should not stop him, “For he who is not against you, is for you” (Luke 9.50, NASB). I believe that those are powerful words. In them I believe that Jesus is showing them that it does not matter what part of the body people are from (the body of Christ) but that as long as they are apart, that is all that matters.
That being said, what can we begin to learn from our other body parts? We have a Lutheran part, a Catholic part, a Pentecostal part, a non-denominational part, an Evangelical part, a Methodist part, a Catholic part and so many other parts. What can we learn from one another so that we can all grow together and all accomplish the work of God together? It is not about building onto our own denominations, it sickens me every time I hear someone say that such and such denomination has this many churches here or that such and such denomination has this many churches there. Instead it is about building the kingdom of God and about the people who are being added to it. I wonder how much more we can accomplish if we begin to work together in this endeavor.