"Pope Francis Comes to Washington"
On this upcoming Tuesday, the most popular man in the world, Pope Francis will make a trip to Washington, DC. The Pope's pending arrival has stirred great excitement and special ceremonies are planned for him at the White House, in Congress and throughout the nation's capital.
But how should we as Baptists view the Pope? Is he God's special representative, the sole head of the church? Many Catholics believe this to be the case, but as Baptists we don't share this view. As Baptists, we believe in the doctrine known as the "Priesthood of All Believers." This doctrine is stated in 1 Peter 2:9 and it says, "Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." In other words, every believer is a priest, called to work for the Lord.
Did you hear that? Each and every believer is a priest and responsible for sharing the light and love of Jesus in the world. We also don't have to go and see a priest for confession. We can confess our sins to God at any time and at any place! (1 John 1:5-10).
Now certainly the Pope deserves our respect as the head of a church - the largest church body in the world and also as the head of a nation state (the Vatican). In addition, we find common ground with the Pope on the church's view that Jesus Christ is the only hope for a dark and dying world.
I also greatly appreciate Pope Frances' commitment to social justice - the need for the church to take care of the poor and to administer justice. Indeed, Pope Francis in speaking about our modern society has said "the unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers." Also Pope Francis has suggested that global warming, is driven by over-consumption, materialism and greed, and threatens to turn the Earth into "an immense pile of filth" and I agree with him.
I am also grateful that during Pope Francis' visit that he will draw attention to many of the populations that our politicians have chosen to ignore and especially in the nation's capital. This list includes the imprisoned, immigrants, children and our homeless brothers and sisters. Pope Francis' visit to our nation's capital will be a historic one. I encourage you to get a chance to see him if you can. But also remember, that not only he, but all of us as people of faith are charged with bringing the light and love of Jesus to a dark and dying world.
Peace and Blessings,
Pastor Kip Bernard Banks, Sr.