This may be an unpopular post, but that’s ok with me. It doesn't make it unnecessary.
Before I get into my thoughts on this article, let me say that what happened to Kobe Bryant, his daughter and the others on the helicopter was tragic and I have genuinely lifted up their families in my prayer closet. This is one of those things you simply never expect to happen and it’s very very sad.
With that, some interesting things have been said surrounding his death. So here is the article I read this morning >> https://bit.ly/36r2AVT
Kobe was said to be a devout Catholic. The article is much about how he had attended mass the morning that he died and, within it, were some interesting comments I found it difficult not to discuss. From my perspective, it opens up a very important conversation about the difference between religion and really knowing Jesus, and how the Catholic church has become quite a detriment to the latter.
Two people were quoted, Pecknold, a self-proclaimed Catholic writer, and Catholic priest, David Barnes throughout this article. I could nearly physically feel the words hit me as I read them. These quotes made by somewhat prominent people during a tragic, attention-grabbing time have the power to disseminate dangerous mistruths and, beyond that, show the core/theological issue alive in the Catholic church.
We’ll start with Pecknold…
“Death comes like a thief in the night, friends — no one survives it happily without being united to Jesus Christ. Make Mass the habit of your life!” added Pecknold.
Notice how this quote is almost true. Death does come like a thief in the night. No one does survive death without knowing Jesus. But then they tack on, “Make Mass the habit of your life!”
The Catholic church (though not only the Catholic church) has perpetuated the lie that religion, a collection of habitual practices, is the way to eternal life with Christ. It’s much to the demise of literal souls that this lie continues to circulate, and has surfaced again, in the article about Kobe’s death.
Here’s my encouragement - don’t make Mass the habit of your life. Make loving Jesus the habit of your life. Make getting into the Word, and loving others and actually knowing God the habit of your life. There’s life in knowing Christ, and only in knowing Christ.
Attending church matters, it’s beneficial, but it’s not going to be your soul-saving practice.
The other quote from, priest, David Barnes -
“Mass is the worship of God. Heaven is the worship of God. Go to Mass here so that you can worship God forever in heaven,” Boston priest David Barnes said via Twitter on Sunday.
Yes, we’ll worship God in Heaven. No, mass is not necessarily the worship of God. And - absolutely no - does going to Mass equate to eternal life in Heaven. Another one that’s almost true.
Going to church doesn’t get you into Heaven anymore than showing up to the gym makes you healthy. Do you know how much worship does not happen in some churches? It could be said about many churches, but especially a church that teaches if you’re just “good enough” in this life, you’ll be awarded Heaven… which is every Catholic church I've ever known.
Worship is not something that is isolated to being inside the walls of a church. It’s what you do with your life. Going to Mass, confessing to a priest, is not going to make your soul right with God. Having a real relationship with Jesus does.
See, what’s being missed here is the truth of the Gospel, which the Catholic church does not teach, and that’s this -
We are all in need of a Savior. We are imperfect people who needed the love of a good, sovereign God to penetrate our hearts; a love that said, “I see what you’ve done, and I’m going to sacrifice the blood of My perfect, innocent Son to bring you back into relationship with Me.”
Being and doing “good” does not get us into Heaven. The standard of “good” is found in Christ, and while we’re called to be Christ-like, we will never reach that standard in this life. We needed His sacrifice because we could never do enough “good” to undo all the innate bad. The things said by Pecknold and Barnes don’t line up with that truth; they promote the idea that by doing the right things on earth - like going to Mass - we can earn our way to Heaven.
I can’t speak for Kobe’s heart. I pray he knew Jesus, and I pray that his family comes to know Jesus if they don’t already. This really isn’t about Kobe as much as it’s about what some have said amidst the news of his death.
The subtle lies always find a way in. Right now, they’re squeezing into the news of Kobe’s death, and it's dangerous. Evil doesn't come in looking like evil. It comes in looking like it could be truth, otherwise how effective would it be? We'd be able to recognize it right away. The quotes noted above, and others I didn't even include here, present subtle lies that appear to be true. In fact, they're almost or mostly true.
The problem? Believing something that's almost true costs you the truth, and all that's attached to it, which in this case is literally eternity.
While I can’t stop the lies from being perpetuated, I can tell you what the truth is -
The only way to Heaven is through coming to know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior; understanding that you need a Savior, that He sacrificed Himself as that Savior, and that by choosing to place your faith in and establishing a relationship with Him, you are eternally redeemed.
That’s the truth of the Gospel, my friends. I hope that Kobe knew that, and I hope that you come to know that if you haven’t already.