Francis said the role of the pope is to open his arms and protect all of humanity, but “especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison.”
“Today amid so much darkness we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others,” he said. “To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope, it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds,” he said.
I cannot help but wonder what the Apostle Peter would have to say, if he were given the same opportunity that Francis of Rome enjoyed at his inauguration. Were the Apostle Peter to be given a global audience, 1.6 billion listeners, and the full benefit of having most of those followers believe that he was infallible in his role as chief Apostle . . . what would he have to say?
Would he have warned his followers of the dangers of hatred, war, poverty, and abuse of their fellow man? Would he encourage everyone to be more gentle, more tolerant, and more peaceful toward each other? Would he proclaim that the world needed to be protected as Pope Francis did saying, “I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.” – (from Fox news article)
Or would the “First Pope” use such an occasion to preach the gospel?
In the book of Acts, on every occasion we have in which Peter was given the opportunity to preach to a crowd, he always preached the gospel. Whether the crowd was hostile, or friendly, Jewish or Gentile, spiritually minded or earthly minded, Peter preached repentance of sins, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. If there was anything that the salty fisherman understood with PhD authority it was the fact that man’s greatest need was not to be protected from harm and evil, it was to be saved from sin, self, Satan, and judgment to come.
Without doubt, debate, or hesitation, with both feet planted firm, Peter proclaimed the guilt of man, repentance of sin, and gospel of Christ. He proclaimed the iniquity of men, the specificity of the gospel, and the exclusivity of Christ.
The ultimate failure in every effort to coax man into being nicer, better and “gooder”, is the same failure in every effort made to coax dogs not to bark or rattlesnakes not to bite. Man’s only problem is the fact that he is human, and there is no human way to over come that. Man cannot, not be man . . . that is until he becomes a new man. The social gospel will always fail because the social gospel is not the gospel. It always begins in the wrong place, with the wrong premise, a wrong problem and a useless promise. The social gospel starts in the wrong place, believing that the highest good is to make the world a better place, and every man a better person. It has the wrong premise, believing that faith is a reforming force in which morally challenged people become better. It tries to solve a wrong problem. Man’s greatest problem is not how he behaves, it is what he is. The social gospel never recognizes that man, being man, is what is wrong with man. What man is constitutes the source, and course for all of society’s evils. Human nature is the fountainhead of evil. The social gospel provides a useless promise. Just for an imaginary moment, lets pretend that everything the social gospel promises comes true. Lets pretend that everyone does become nicer, better, and “gooder.” Lets pretend that all poverty is vanquished, all war is ended, all crime ceases, and the world becomes one global sing-a-long and everyone loves everyone. So what. Nothing has really changed. Death is still coming, judgment is still approaching, and hell is still burning hot. Men do not go to hell for what they do, they go to hell for what they are, and until they are born again, all other changes are useless and hopeless.
With such a privilege and opportunity to preach to billions willing to hear what you have to say, Francis of Rome would do well to learn from Peter of Galilee. All societal fixes, are nothing more than new paint on decaying barns. Jesus Christ is the only One who can change a man from being a sinner to being a saint, and as the Bible says, “the whole world lieth in wickedness.” Changes are coming, and they aren’t going to be the kind of changes that society wishes for. There is only one change worth making, and coming to Jesus in repentance of sin, and faith in Christ is it; or as Peter would put it, “Neither is there (capital s) Salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”