I noticed a couple interesting facts on facebook tonight. First, the awkward one. I find it an interesting social commentary to look at the many people I know on facebook who are friends with…Colby, for example, but not with me. I don’t assume any negative feelings are harbored; no, nothing of the sort. But it says any one of a thousand things about how these people view me. I wont harp on this for an hour as everyone knows I could. It’s just thought-provoking; for me.
Of greater interest though is a trend that I’ve been noticing for some time now, but that finally struck me today. A large number of my friends on facebook do not write “Christian” under religious views. In fact, they aren’t writing in any common derivative of “Christian,” such as “Catholic,” “Protestant,” “Evangelical,” “Baptist,” etc. Instead, people are inserting their own little saying or idea to express their religion. I have some examples here that you might recognize if you frequent the pages of my facebook friends:
- I frankly do not like religion.
- Love Jesus
- Follower of Christ
- I am a follower of Christ
- ‘You are not your own, you were bought at a price.’
- I love Jesus…
- Follower of Jesus Christ!
- Jesus is Alive and Reigns!
- Jesus is my Co-Pilot
I’m not critical of such sentiments in general. After all, there is nothing wrong with declaring that you love Jesus, or that you are on of His followers. Neither do I think it is an inappropriate summation of one’s religious views. What does strike me about these alternatives is that they are not novelties.
I don’t think too many people would disagree with my analysis here. Christian people have grown a little wary of the label “Christian.” People would rather be known as a follower of Christ than as a Christian. They are tired of the negative connotation it carries in some circles and don’t appreciate the association it brings with certain other folks who call themselves Christians.
If this is the case, every Christian, follower of Christ, and Jesus lover is in a difficult position. On the one hand, you want solidarity, unity with your fellow brethren. On the other, you don’t want the stain of the so-called Christians who bear no resemblance to Christ; I’m not talking about the errors of Christians, but the ones who show no love, no grace; the ones without compassion or empathy; the ones who are not confessing to error but holding fast to it. Ideally, the stain would go away, and Christian would be a proud title once again. But that isn’t a hopeful prospect. Alternatively, a new title could be raised solemnly declaring the sentiments of the faithful. Sadly, that too would be blemished beyond repair with a little time. It is in this predicament that the question is raised in my mind, “What if those stains could somehow be removed by a declaration, a renouncing of the wrongs done?” This begs the question, “Who could make such a declaration? Who has the authority to do such a thing?” Then, “Does anyone have such authority?” and “What would be required to have such authority?” Finally, “Has anyone ever had such authority as this, authority over the Church of Christ?”
Well, I think so. I think the apostles, those who saw the Jesus we love so dearly, had that authority. After all, they were the ones to whom the building of the Church was commended, and they were the ones who made the ultimate decisions in the Church during their lives. That’s all plain to the eye in Acts, right? So, if they had the authority, who has it now? Well, that depends mostly basically on whether or not they had successors, and whether those successors were considered to be true successors by the apostles who remained after some of the original apostles left this earth. History, it all comes down to history. And the question than is this, “Is there a line of succession through the laying on of hands from the apostles to this day?”
Without our history, there would be no Church on earth today. I thank God that the Church has a history; one that is recorded and available for study. I thank God that He established offices of authority in His Church. And again I thank God that they laid hands on successors from the apostles on to this day, men who have guarded the faith and preserved the truth from all error. Here is a link to a list of those who succeeded Peter as the first Bishop of Rome: The list of 265.