There once was a boy who cast out his line. On the end of that line was a shiny lure. He caught one fish after another. Some fish were returned to the water hungry. Others were brought to the table and filleted. The only fish that flourished were those who chose to ignore the illusion. They knew Truth. They enjoyed Freedom. They experienced Paradise.
What if our religion is our ‘shiny lure’ – creating illusionary expectations about our church, our world or even our God?
This could be devastating!
It could be and is in more cases than I would like to see. Religion can very well be the shiny lure-creating illusionist expectations about everything and everyone. Our mind is very good at creating what we expect and formulating our realities based on that. Unknown to ourselves we could in fact be totally convinced that we are 100% right when in Truth we are 50% wrong.
Half truths will never lead to full Promise.
When we become so consumed by Ego and bring forth our credentials onto ourselves and others, we may feel that we have won. This is a hollow victory. Well, this is the case for those who have perceived themselves as godly and in their egocentric perception have given themselves freely to ungodly actions.
It is very easy to formulate a strong perception on a single event from a single time with a single person. Recently I had a visit from a friend who is adamant about pursuing her perceived doctrines about being a good Christian. It all began with her statement “We are all filthy rags. Only God is good.” I enquired about where she came to that conclusion and let her know that this is not true. In fact another friend of mine made that very same statement to me recently. “Show me where in the Bible it says that. Aren’t we created in the image of God? Isn’t he our Father? Would we look at All our children as filthy rags?” She then referenced Isaiah 64:6 where Isaiah is speaking to God about the current situation plaguing the majority of his people at that time. Isaiah was asking for an answer. In typical fashion, my friend and fellow Christian failed to see the context of the chapter and verses which led to Isaiah’s statement. She learned her interpretation from who I would assume was an untrained, uneducated or straight out manipulative pastor who may have just as well received his ordination papers in a cereal box. This being the case the statements were retained in her mind as fact and never challenged until this day. Her misconception and unwillingness to explore the Truth led me to make a statement meant to provoke further debate.
The Roman Catholic Church is the only real church all the others from Martin Luther on are all fake. They are all the false prophets spoken about in the Bible. Rest assured that Roman Catholic Priests are the best educated teachers of Biblical literature. A major contributor to their level of awareness is the fact that they do not marry. A married man could never devote all of self to the church. Family would always take president if he expects that relationship to be fruitful.
This proved to be a highly effective tool in opening some doors that have not been open in a while. Even for myself. As I had done the same thing she had. We both walked away from the Roman Catholic Church because we needed more, as thousands of others had over the past several decades. I acknowledge this fact and understand that everything happens for a reason. However, we must be honest with ourselves and others about what those reasons were. Keep in mind the Church and the church are two different things. The main purpose of us coming together to worship is never diminished by where we meet. These are just buildings and are nothing more than meeting places for those who wish to share the Word and experience Spirit together as One.
The first door that opened was that of a church in Brooklyn New York that she had entered over twenty years ago. She had reached the stage in her life where a thirst for the things of God needed to be quenched. Typically, as it is with many Catholics today, the church was used to lay a foundation for the more advanced Christianity that would follow. However, where congregants tend to get lost in this system is usually right after they receive the sacrament of confirmation. This has become a graduation day for many Catholics and a right to wander away from the church in most cases never to be seen in mass again. This was exactly the case with my friend. For over ten years she had ceased to meet together with fellow Christians. During this time she had moved in with her boyfriend and adopted the American religion of Capitalism and moved far away from the moral teachings of her upbringing.
As she began to feel more lost and yearned for solace, she thought to return to where all things once made sense to her. She arrived at a local Roman Catholic Church one Sunday morning, attended the service and afterwards went over to speak with the priest. He did not give her the answer she was looking for. Perhaps she asked the wrong question, but whatever transpired in that conversation caused her to never return.
This brings us back to our initial debate. We stood in the kitchen of my home discussing the context of Isaiah 64:6 and were led into a heated debate about the Roman Catholic Church. My wife, a devote Catholic was present too. My friend began to make several statements about the Pope and the Catholic Church that I was obligated to dispel. Lots of plural statements were made in places that should have been singular. “They don’t want us to read the Bible! This is why there are no Bibles in the pews of the Catholic Church.” My wife answered, “Don’t most people bring their own Bibles to church?” My friend countered, “We are supposed be able to turn to the Bible to make sure that what the pastor or priest says is really in there.” My wife began to laugh and said, “So you listen to a man who you do not trust is giving you the Word?” This went on for a while.
We began to speak about our past experiences with the Roman Catholic Church and what caused us to walk away from it. For her it was the typical, “I needed more. There was nothing there for me.” I’m sure this was akin to me searching the kitchen pantry for something that only my wife can find. As she often says, “You just don’t know how to look.” Eventually this turned to the sexual abuse scandal which plagued the Catholic Church for several decades. A scandal which I believe for the most part was directly or indirectly linked to the mass exodus of good Catholic Christians from the church that was in fact their own. They left their churches untended. Therefore, the once bountiful garden became engulfed by weeds.
I paid close attention to all the words being used and came to a clear understanding or revelation of what had taken place so many years ago in that Brooklyn church. She had formulated a reality in her own mind of what the Roman Catholic Church is, what it stands for, who the members (1.1 billion worldwide) are and what those arrogant priests (41,400 in the United States alone) are all about. It was all the plurals in the conversation that bothered me most so I began to inquire. “What priest are you referring too? Which Roman Catholic churches did you attend? How many protestant churches did you find with Bibles in the pews?” The answers ranged from one to a handful and proved my point. This was a ridiculous statement that a first grader could understand especially when we consider the 1.1 million Catholics in existence today. She had no solid proof that any of her statements were true and had no right to accuse every single priest in the Roman Catholic Church of doing any less than educating and leading people to a godly lifestyle.
You see, my wife and I both had excellent priests in our parishes growing up. They encouraged us to read Scripture and offered many additional services and education groups to add value to our walk. The thing is that many fail to look any further than the fast food window which has come to be their weekly mass. They believe they need look no further to satisfy their thirst for Truth. So, many leave to seek nourishment elsewhere failing to realize that we are the Church.
This has been the downfall of parish communities all over the United States of America. Many good Christians have left the Catholic Church. They had abandoned the house and allowed the evil ones to walk right in. It is exactly like abandoning a home in the inner city and never looking back. The worst of the worst will find their way in and ruin a house that was once whole. It makes me wonder if things would have been different in regards to the sex scandals of the church if more intuitive Spirit seeking Christians remained. We may have been able to pull up the weeds by the roots before evil reared its ugly head. I’m sure we would have recognized the wolves in sheep’s clothing
I reiterated several times that what she was doing was wrong. Her experience with one priest, in one church, on one particular day is not grounds for her assumptions about all priests, all congregants (68 million in the United States) and all churches. “You must stop using plurals where you mean to use singulars.” It was then that she felt discomfort as her perceived truths began to evaporate. I found it difficult to speak as she continued to talk over me while reverting to unrelated topics and inserting “Aha” moments which failed to enlighten my wife or me and seemed to materialize absent of context. Struggling to maintain her beliefs she eventually and typically referenced the scandal. She proclaimed in an unforgiving and hateful tone, “They knew about the molestations! The Pope knew exactly what was going on!”
Again she used many plurals where there should have been singulars. I had to ask, “Who is they? Are all priests bad? How do you know the Pope knew?” She replied, “I just know. He said so. He apologized to everyone.” She took what she wanted from the apology. In her mind he was confessing his wrong doing and not voicing his regret for the actions of some.
Every time she proclaims these falsities and passes them on she is bearing false witness. In her mind she stands strong in the Word while in All she defiles Spirit with her actions. The Ego built from her religion is her shiny lure. Partial Truths will never satisfy what she had hungered for on that one day in that Brooklyn church over twenty years ago.
Luke 6:41 (Amplified Bible) Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye but do not notice or consider the beam [of timber] that is in your own eye?
Another friend is a Jehovah Witness and adamantly proclaims the doctrine of that church. He recently brought me a book to read that exhibited how the Roman Catholic Church has its roots in Paganism. Everything from symbols of the crucifixion of Jesus to the fish shaped hat at the top of the Popes head was mentioned in the book “Babylon the Mystery Religion” by Ralph Woodrow. Although the book was out of print I found a copy on Amazon and ordered right away. I also ordered “The Babylon Connection” which turned out to be the corrected copy of the first book. It would seem that the author found that one of him principle sources was not as reliable as initially perceived. Although the first book was selling in great numbers and removing it from the market would cost the author a great deal of money; the most important thing was to right the wrong and correct the misinformation which was previously printed.
Well, I took the liberty of ordering “The Babylon Connection” for my friend when I ordered my copy. He read the book and was unimpressed and remained unwavering in his beliefs. In fact he came to the conclusion that the Roman Catholic Church had strong armed Woodrow into writing the second book. “They got to him!” he proclaimed. His mind was closed and he refused to let any information in that conflicted with his previous beliefs. He preferred to remain in the lie rather than even considering the truth and became a prisoner of that propaganda.
Yes, religion can be our shiny lure. It could be everything we expect it should be. However, what we expect it should be is not always what it should be. The things we think may satisfy us just may leave us hungry or even worse; dead in the water.
There is always more to learn. As we experience our physical lives we grow spiritual. Only an open mind will nourish the soul. In this we will find the Truth revealed and the freedom that goes along with it. How do we clean filthy rags? We put them through the wash to remove the stains of the past. Truth is the most powerful detergent.