In the lead-up to the commemoration of Holy Week and Easter, Pope Francis has urged Christians to see the crucifix not as an piece of jewelry but rather as a profound symbol of faith in Jesus.
Commenting on the gospel reading March 18, where Jesus says that when he is “lifted up” he will draw all people to himself, the pope said that the passage invites us to contemplate the crucifix, where Christ’s glory is revealed.
“Those who want to know Jesus must look inside the cross, where his glory is revealed,” Francis told pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday before reciting the Angelus prayer with them. “Look inside the cross.”
The gospel, he said, “invites us to direct our gaze to the crucifix, which is not a decoration or a fashion accessory.” It is, rather, “a religious symbol to be contemplated and understood.”
“The image of Jesus crucified reveals the mystery of the death of the Son as the supreme act of love, the source of life and salvation for humanity of all times,” he added. “In his wounds we have been healed.”
The pope warned that like other holy objects, the crucifix is sometimes “abused” by people who treat it simply as a piece of jewelry, disregarding its deeper religious significance.
Francis invited his hearers to ask themselves, “How do I look at the crucifix? Like a work of art, to see whether it is beautiful or not? Or do I look inside, entering the wounds of Jesus even to his heart? Do I look at the mystery of God brought low to the point of death, like a slave, like a criminal?”
The pope also encouraged his audience to meditate on the wounds of Christ, which he suffered for the salvation of the world.
In this way, “we will learn the great wisdom of the mystery of Christ, the great wisdom of the cross,” he said.
Despite his criticism of wearing the crucifix as a piece of jewelry, on the following day the pope told a group of young people that he has nothing against tattoos, even in the form of a cross.
Wage Spiritual Warfare
Sometimes I go throughout the day getting caught up in political debates. I get distracted with the most recent “happening” that is popular within the mainstream media. I begin to focus on what I can see and I lose focus on the things that are unseen, which is eternally valuable.
Lately, I’ve been going through a YouTube series called ‘Know Your Enemy’, which is a series that highlights the unseen war that has been going on since Genesis. God has been using this series in my life to help me realize the importance of spiritual warfare.
What we believe about the unseen determines our purpose.
Our purpose determines our daily choices.
Our daily choices have eternal consequences.
Love your enemies
Liberals are not our enemies, nor are communists.
Atheists are not our enemies.
Muslims are not our enemies.
As Christians, radical Islamic terrorists are not our enemies either.
These people are simply enslaved by the darkness and the spiritual forces of evil. We must not forget our history as Christians. Before God saved us, we were enslaved to sin (Rom. 6:20) and we were dead in sin (Eph. 2:1). The only difference between the Christian and the sinner is that God has freely chosen to open our eyes to the Gospel, and we can only boast in Him (1 Cor. 3:21).
There is no human being on earth that is our enemy. Jesus Christ has made this clear in the Gospel.
Jesus says in Matthew 5:44 to “love our enemies” and to “pray for those who persecute us”.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)
This is it. This is the nail in the coffin. Everything around you, including the political atmosphere in America, is a place of ongoing warfare.
This war is a war for dominance.
This war is more important than any war that has ever took place in all of history.
This is a war for your soul, and the souls of those around you.
Our enemies are our flesh, satan, and his demons
The way in which we fight this war and defeat the enemy is through God’s promises, which we find in His Word, the Bible.
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. – Ephesians 6:13-17 (ESV)
So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. – Romans 8:12-13 (ESV)
We win the war for our souls through the strength of God’s Spirit.
We are commanded by God to kill our sin.
This battle we are fighting requires a war mentality. We are at war with ourselves (flesh), and with the world (satan).
Remember Christian, no human being is our enemy. The war that we are fighting is a spiritual one, and we are called to fight this war with God’s Word. The war against globalism, the new world order, and satan’s realm is a spiritual war.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. – 1 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV)
The next time you turn on the news and you get worked up over the liberal media, remember that our fight is against the unseen.
As Christians, we are enlisted in God’s eternal army, and we are fighting a war against our flesh and satan’s kingdom.
Soli Deo gloria!
Christianity and Free Speech
I’m about to break the ice. Within the Constitution, the idea of free speech is crucial within the premise of personal liberty and freedom. This is the idea that we as Americans can freely exercise our religious freedoms and beliefs without the fear of being executed by authorities.
The idea that we can freely express our opinions and thoughts without the fear of being imprisoned or beaten by the government.
I want to ask a tough question, and it might make you feel uncomfortable.
Does a Christian really have a God given right to America’s idea of free speech?
To put it bluntly, no, and later on I’ll explain why.
Lawful and helpful
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:23, “’All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up.“
In the United States (and around the world), some things might be LEGAL, but it may be IMMORAL.
Slavery was something that was practiced under the law, but it was objectively immoral.
Abortion is practiced under the the law, but it is objectively immoral.
I would argue that the idea of free speech should fall into the same type of thinking. We have the freedom under the law to express our beliefs, views, and opinions, but it may be objectively immoral.
Our words have the power to bring life to those around us or spread death to our surroundings.
The tongue is a fire
The Bible should be our moral compass. The Word of God should be our guideline and standard regarding everything in life.
The words that come out of our mouths will either display the glory of God, or the sinfulness of man.
James makes this super clear in James 3**.
James says every animal that walks the earth can be tamed, but no human can “tame the tongue”. James also says that our tongue is a “restless evil”, full of “deadly poison”.
We cannot tame the tongue ourselves through our own power, but with God’s power, we can tame the tongue.
In conclusion, I beg everyone to (including myself) to pray earnestly that God would continually give us the words to say that need to be said. Even though it may be lawful to exercise our freedom to free speech, it could possible be immoral. I pray that as Christians, our words would magnify God instead of spreading poison, so that when people would see us, they would see Christ in us. Christians, whenever we encounter someone we may disagree with, we need to choose our words wisely. May we beg God to give us the power to tame our tongues, because left to ourselves, we are helpless and hopeless.
Soli Deo gloria
**I highly encourage everyone to dig into James 3
Mass Shootings: The Roots pt. 3
If you haven’t read my previous articles on mass shootings, please read them here:
In part 1, I briefly touched the question as to why these mass shootings happen. In part 2, I went deeper into the sin issue, which is the root of the mass shootings. I provided a small amount of Biblical evidence regarding the sin issue. I discussed the importance of the story regarding Cain killing Abel, and why Cain killed Abel. I detailed all of the sin Cain dealt with and mentioned the fact that the same sin that Cain dealt with is the same sin WE deal with as humans.
You and I are not exempt from this sin problem.
we are all fallen creatures standing before a Holy God who demands righteousness and obedience. The sin that infected Cain has infected us all, and we need help. The sin issue is the root cause of all mass shootings, and every mass shooter that has ever lived is sinful (like you and I), and they will have to stand before God one day just like you and me.
This is the final part of this mini series. The reason why I wanted to write some opinion articles on mass shootings is because society as a whole is missing the mark on why these mass shootings happen.
Society is scratching at surface level symptoms, and I wanted to get to the root of the problem.
Welcome to part 3.
We’re all sinful
The Apostle Paul makes it clear in Romans 3 that we are all sinful. He says there is no one that is good. Paul says that we have all “fallen short” of God’s glory. This is you, this is me, and this is every mass shooter that has ever lived. We are totally and utterly depraved. Apart from God, Ephesians 2 says that we are “dead in sin”.
So now what?
Jesus Christ is the solution. Jesus Christ is the Gospel. The Gospel means good news. He is the answer to every problem we see around us, including mass shootings. The truth is, we all need Jesus just as much as mass shooters need Jesus. We need God to save us from ourselves, because when we are left to ourselves, we will continue to choose ourselves over Jesus.
The Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (ESV)
Jesus calls us to repent and believe in Him.
Repent simply means to change our mind about who we are (sinful), and who God is (Holy).
Repentance leads to the total surrendering of yourself to God.
Belief simply means to trust fully in who God and what He says in His Word, the Bible.
So there it is, the solution. It might seem simple, but we like to make it super complex. My hope is that Jesus will transform destroyed homes and broken hearts. My hope is that Jesus will convict sinners and will give fathers the courage to lead their homes in grace and truth. My hope is that Jesus will repair the sinner’s heart and transform that heart into a heart that desires to obey God. My hope is that the people in America will stop looking for faulty solutions to the mass shooting problem and will look to Jesus for guidance.
I’m not here to speak about comforting lies, I’m here to give you uncomfortable truths that lead to a life of fullness with Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is the only solution to mass shootings.
Nothing less, nothing more.
We all just need Jesus.
Soli Deo gloria**
**If you’re interested in the solution, feel free to watch this video