I am still reflecting on my experience at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The questions that comes to my mind is “why can’t we all just get along?” If you were to read the history of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Wikipedia, you would find that the “Christian” groups have had actual fights and brawls over some of the most insignificant issues. One of the historical evidences of this long period of disagreeableness at the church is a ladder called the “immovable ladder”. Sometime before 1852 one of the groups who share the building went to change a broken window.
One of the other groups started arguing with them insisting that while the 1st group owned the wall, the ladder was leaning against the ledge that they owned and they could not use the ledge to change the their window. The ladder has been in nearly the same spot for over 160 years and can be seen in the century old photographs and engraving. One of my impressions from my first trip to Jerusalem in Nov. 2011, that was reinforces in this trip, is that Jerusalem is perhaps the most religious place in the world but there is very little faith there. The examples that I’ve shared in the last two blogs are examples of religion, organized religion in its dark mood. Even today (Thurs.) as I’m writing this, the new 9/11 memorial in NYC is opening to the families of the victims who lost their love ones there. That tragic event was done in the name of God (or Allah). Even now nearly 300 young Nigerian women are being held by Muslim extremist in the name of Allah. And where is the outcry from the Muslim community that this is wrong? In the name of religion!
But faith is something all-together different. Having a “born again” experience with Jesus Christ not only changes our thought life but should also change our actions and our motives. In the 3rd chapter of Galatians we read Paul’s word where he writes, “Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith” (v. 11 NASB). The last part of this verse is first stated in the book of Habakkuk in the OT when God tells Habakkuk that He’s going to use Babylon to judge Judah. Habakkuk can’t believe what he’s hearing. But God states this very important principle that’s repeated several times in the NT, “The righteous shall live by faith”. We need to live by faith, not by religious customs or traditions. We need to allow our faith to affect every area of our lives so we do not lose our testimony over nonessentials like spiritual gifts, worship styles or food and drink. Does your faith work for a living? I hope its transforming your heart and your mind.
Shalom, Pastor Rich Sivo