Blog & Pastor Letters

Christianity and the Jesus Open-Door Policy

05-09-2021Weekly ReflectionRev. Victor C. Yakubu

Hiking up to the zenith of Mont Sinai is a daunting task. I began the climb from St. Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of the mountain with other pilgrims from different parts of the world. It was cold and chilly. The monks told us there has not been snow for a long time. Anyway, the snow began to melt, and we were told it was safe to start the climb. Meanwhile, they gave us hot tea to warm us up and we were dressed up in all kinds of protective gear. I wore mine carefully and covered my head allowing only my eyes the honor of directing my sight.

After six hours, I found myself atop the mountain. I prayed and asked God to bless all those who made my priestly ministry possible. As I moved around the mountain observing the rising sun, I noticed other people from Greece, Brazil, USA, Norway, Chile and Italy. We instantly became friends as we moved together in a circle and prayed to our living God. Since it was Christmastime, everybody was in high spirits. It was another six hours before I returned to the foot of Mount Sinai, and then I realized that not everyone who started the climb reached the peak. Many returned to the monastery and continued their hot-coffee-drinking spree.

The early Church began with the notion that God’s love was only for the circumcised. And since only the Jews were circumcised, the non-Jewish communities needed circumcision for salvation. The leadership of Peter truly assisted in diffusing the tensions between the Jews who were circumcised and the non-Jews who were largely uncircumcised.

Peter and his group of believers noticed that the gentiles were filled with the Holy Spirit and even spoke in tongues, but none was baptized. This made Peter to ask, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit even as we have?” Since there was no opposition to their baptism, he baptized them in the name of Jesus.

Peter was right. Nobody should be denied baptism based on anything other than their repulsion of the faith. For ages, the Church has done this, and it is necessary to leave the doors open for those who want to come in. Jesus said to us, “You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will last, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.” For all of us who have come into the Church from different nationalities, the joy of it is that we add color to the Body of Christ.

What needs to be emphasized is that love should bind our relationships so that Jesus is honored and not our selfish selves. St John the beloved disciple preached love even in his old age. St. John writes, “Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.” It is amazing to see different colored faces praising God in one assembly. Without the faith we share, we cannot understand the abiding love that envelops us when we gather in His name. But since Jesus is our central focus, we experience the Holy Spirit in a deeper way unseen by the human eyes.

On Mount Sinai I experienced the love of God as I held the hands of Christians I never knew. The love of Jesus bound us together. I felt the warmth of their love and the enthusiasm of their spirit, even though it was briefly. The experience of communal worship, liturgy and prayer is always a worthy cause for uplifting our frail souls to God who called us out of our different races to share love with others.

Michele Woolley wrote in her book God’s Favor – Breath of Heaven, “God made you the way He wanted you to be, and He does not make mistakes. He has a plan for your life that is much bigger than you can imagine.” To enter his presence or depart to your lonely self, the choice is yours. Keep praying!