by Ashley Nicole Hargrave
Lately I have been thinking about the division between Catholics and Protestants. The history of this is something everyone is aware of; it includes hatred and wars. I grew up not going to church - I was Catholic because that's what I was baptized. In the 7th grade, I started going to a Methodist church. I never really thought about the fact that this was not exactly a normal thing - I have, however, over the years noticed the animosity the protestants feel towards catholics and vice versa. It is almost as if each feels superior and more correct than the other.
It was brought to my attention in a recent conversation how detrimental this is to everyone. A friend of mine, no longer a practicing Catholic, has been exploring his beliefs and is searching for a relationship with God. When I discussed the idea of his coming to church with me, he objected for one reason. He has heard numerous derogatory comments and biased cricisms of the catholic church. He feels uncomfortable and hurt at the idea of going to a place where his heritage is openly and sometimes unfairly put down. I have tried to convince him to go, telling him my church is not like that. It is just individuals who do not realize what damage they are doing: scaring away what people who are searching for the Lord.
So here is my basic point. The reason we all attend church is Jesus Christ. Although division may have come about hundreds of years ago we all believe in the most important issue: Jesus Christ came to earth and died so that we might live. Remember His words and actions, how he loved and forgave. Galations 3:28 states, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Keep in mind that in the beginning there was no such thing as Catholic or Protestant - just Christ. He is the one we gather to worship and love, so let's try to follow in His footsteps and show love to everyone. Criticizing or ridiculing people who hold different beliefs only breeds tension and hatred. Instead, we must build relationship and love. This does not mean we have to agree with everyone's beliefs and actions, but respect them and love them as we would love our own family and neighbors. No one was ever led to Christ by someone who preached Christian principles (love tolerance, forgiveness) but did not live them.