by Ore Fakorede
In recent years, the apparent failure of the Christian Church to save itself from internal strife and divisions has taken a hammer to its reliability and public image. The fragmentation of a once cohesive unit into several denominations whose doctrines are light-years apart, has eroded the influence that the Church had in the early part of the last century. Rather than the icon of true faith that Martin Luther, John Calvin and other Reformers struggled to build, what exists as Christianity now is a long shadow punctuated by occasional flashes of light. In simple terms, faith has become overridden by religion.
The worst hit by this retrogression are, unsurprisingly, the new converts who constantly suffer at the hand of ‘saints’. In this non-partisan critique, the word ‘saints’ refers to the old-timers, the ones who have literally walked the mile and often boast about how much of the Scriptures they know by heart. Ironically, these self-styled keepers of the Great Commission have slowly but surely acquired the despicable nature of the main opposition to Christ’s earthly ministry – the Pharisees. Life coach and motivational speaker Myles Munroe once said, when the purpose of a thing is unknown, misuse is inevitable. It is the lack of understanding of the undiscriminating nature of God’s saving grace that has led to its misuse as a yardstick for judging who is worthy to be called a Christian and who is not. Like boulders in a narrow mountain pass, the older breed of self-righteous believers constituted obstacles to the planting and growth of proselytes in the faith that they so eagerly accepted. Many a soul has been lost due to the judgemental statements of these know-alls: “You’re not dressed like a Christian!”, “Your hair is too wild!”, or “You shouldn’t be here, you’re not holy enough.” If God needed sinners to be “holy enough” to be eligible for salvation, then Jesus’ death was a waste. And the Son Of God couldn’t have left His exalted position just to waste His time and human life, could He?
Without mincing words, let it be said that the rift between the overly critical ‘old school’ of believers and the fresh-faced newbies is a product of the religious bigotry that the former group has so shamelessly demonstrated over the years. The world has moved from the era of dogmatic beliefs to the age of open-mindedness, and it is only right for any forward-thinking assembly to follow that trend. Change will always come, but the question is: is the Church ready for that change? In order for the future to become clear, the cloudy irises of the past must first be removed. The ‘saints’ should remember that they were once sinners, and also that having a jaundiced view of newer, less uptight Christians would not get them to heaven quicker than the next man. After all, we are all saved by grace through faith, not by ourselves because we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s standard of righteousness. Salvation is God’s gift to mankind. We did nothing to deserve it, so who are we to declare that others must meet certain obligations in order to obtain what we got for free?
God will not judge anyone based on hairstyles, clothes, or how many church committees we are members of. Rather, He will judge us on what we do with our lives. Easter isn’t just another holiday, it is the perfect time to break down walls and mend relationships the way that Jesus’ death and resurrection repaired the rift between mankind and God. If we are all God’s children, then we are all saints.