In my family’s last visit to the United States, we visited a “beautiful” church in Orange County, California; clad entirely in glass (designed by a renowned architect) which was quite the landmark in that county for many years. What made me more curious about its history was the fact that its founder was one of my favorite motivational authors growing up. I know he was Protestant, but what made me realize the impact of that was in knowing that his church became bankrupt and had to sell this to the Catholic Church.
This generation as well as future generations have to be discerning in the congregations they attend for worship. They should realize that it is not only how a church starts, but also on how it is sustained and how it manages to stay for the long term. What adds to the confusion in the world today is that there are a bunch of false prophets claiming to speak in behalf of God. You can hear and see them easily, aside from being the loudest, these well-advertised pastors proclaim a message taken from the Holy Book, yet without the authority bestowed by God. They usually profess a faith that is geared more towards convenience, glamour and marketing. You only need to look around and see them proclaiming the presence of show business personalities attending their events for added glamour and worldly prestige. Ironically in what could be said as pure hypocrisy, these self-appointed pastors live in elegance and indulgence while their congregations wallow in need and poverty. What is disturbing though is the fact that there are people attracted for the wrong reasons and for the wrong motivations. Our Lord Jesus has warned us strongly that “…many will come in my name, saying ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many.” (Mt. 24: 5)
This is where the problem with churches made by man: Yahweh God has warned strongly against prophets professing to speak in His name: “he shall die.” (Dt. 18: 20) God is telling His anger against those who claim to speak for Him without being commanded to do so. This authority comes not from one’s self, but should only from God alone. And God’s warning also applies to us in that we should be discerning who we should follow and look up to. We should know who are speaking to us, for we might be misled. We should be faithful and persevere in faith, as this is the only way we can be saved. (Mt. 24: 13)
In the Gospel, the people were astonished at Jesus’ teaching, “for He taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.” (Mk. 1: 22) Unclean spirits even recognized and submitted to Him as the Holy One of God. The lesson then is that it is only Jesus that this authority has been given. This authority has been passed on by Jesus to the Apostles, down to the bishops and priests, in a long unbroken line of successors who have been anointed by God through the power of His Holy Spirit. Thus, it should come simpler for us in discerning God’s presence because we have only to look at the anointed authorities here on earth.
In following them, we can be ensured that we only follow the real and the “Anointed One” of God: Our Lord Jesus Christ.
“If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.”(Ps. 95: 8)