When Pope Francis came onto the world’s stage in March of 2013, he was immediately heralded by millions of Christians and non-Christians alike as a great man of God. Similar to the way King Saul was originally adored by the Israelites of his day, the media portrayed Francis as a gentle leader of sheep, and the world welcomed him with open arms.
However, as time has progressed, Pope Francis has spoken many disturbing words. And the more he speaks, the more red flags are raised.
Let me give you two examples.
Recently, Francis took part in a Q&A. He was asked by a girl (who lives in an area where 80% of the population is non-Christian) if she should witness to her unbelieving friends and try to convince them to go to church. This was his answer:
Listen, the last thing you must do is to “speak.” You have to live as a Christian, like a Christian: convinced, forgiven, and on a path. It is not licit to convince them of your faith; proselytism is the strongest poison against the ecumenical path.
Along similar lines, in 2014, Pope Francis gave the world his 10 secrets to living a happy life. This was number 9 on the list:
9. Don't proselytize; respect others' beliefs. "We can inspire others through witness so that one grows together in communicating. But the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyzes: 'I am talking with you in order to persuade you,' No."
Is Pope Francis right? And should we obey him?
Is it not lawful to try to convince others to become Christians? Is urging people to give their lives to Jesus poisonous? Is the worst thing of all talking with people in order to persuade them to change their beliefs?
Think about what Francis just did. Did he use words to try to persuade and convince people to change their religious beliefs? Doesn’t he believe that is an evil thing to do? If Francis believes that what he said in his Q&A and 9th step of happiness is right, he just broke his own law while in the midst of declaring it to the world.
But what does the Bible have to say about the matter?
In 2 Corinthians 5:10-11, Paul writes about how we should live in light of eternity and the judgment to come.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men.
Knowing the judgment to come, that we all will be repaid for everything we’ve done, said and thought, Paul says he has devoted his life to trying to persuade people to give their lives to Jesus. So, how did he persuade others? By merely living a godly life, and if necessary, after a long period of time, finally using words?
Acts 19 describes Paul’s entrance into Ephesus. How did he initially engage the people there?
And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some were becoming disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. – Acts 19:8-10
It’s a good thing for all the people of Asia Minor that Paul wasn’t following the philosophy of Pope Francis. Because of Paul’s aggressive, persuasive speaking, the gospel of the kingdom of God was heard all over that region and countless people became followers of Jesus.
Who are you following?
Paul was following the commands of Jesus when he fearlessly went into the synagogue of Ephesus, boldly proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Acts 26:15-18, he testified to King Agrippa of the commission he received from Jesus to proclaim the gospel.
"I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. … For this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness … rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.”
Paul did not prove disobedient to what Jesus commanded. What about Pope Francis? Is he being obedient to the one he calls his Lord? Is he teaching others to obey the Lord Jesus?
Doesn’t Jesus call us to make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey all of His commands?
If so, perhaps Francis needs to read Luke 6:46 again. “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”
Do you call Jesus your Lord? If so, do you do what He says, or, is there a different authority calling the shots in your life? Pope Francis will have to answer for what he’s doing and teaching, and so will we.