The Location of God’s Representatives
Without being judgmental and maintaining an open mind, let’s ask some questions about your religion: Is your religion perfect? Are all of your teachings infallible? Are all of your teachers infallible? Are there no members within your religion that are hypocritical and commit gross error? Is your religion a perfect imitation of Jesus? An honest hearted person would have to say, “No” to each of these questions.
In fact, isn’t it true that all religions have a lot right and a lot wrong? For example, one may be known for generosity; one may be known for faithfulness; one may be known for righteous conduct, etc. Think, too, If every religion was Jehovah’s Witness, who would run the hospitals? And if every religion was Catholic, who would preach? Who would feed the homeless? Who would assist those in poverty? One religion cannot do it all!
Likewise, those who chose to accept their sonship with God and take up the ministry of reconciliation are found throughout Christianity. So is one particular religion the earthly representative of God’s sovereignty on earth? No, not as a whole. But many members within those religions who accept their sonship with God and promote the kingdom of the heavens as Jesus taught it, they are the ambassadors and earthly representatives of God’s sovereignty.
This understanding creates a ‘level playing field,’ so to speak, such that no particular Christian religion is superior to the other. For many, that’s a hard pill to swallow because of the claims of its shepherds that they are the only channel of God. But if we humble ourselves before the Father, we will be exalted. Jesus made this clear when he said:
“Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters. And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your Father. And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
– Matthew 23:8-12
The sons of God are led, not by men, but by spirit.
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God."
– Romans 8:14
They accept the relative authority of their religious shepherds, but they understand that such men are merely fellow workers, not masters over their faith. Each of us stands alone before the Father on our own faith.
“But that does not mean we want to dominate you by telling you how to put your faith into practice. We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy, for it is by your own faith that you stand firm.”
– 2 Corinthians 1:24
The Father is not, and has never been, concerned with the earthly status of a person:
“Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.”
– Acts 10:34-35
“For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
– Galatians 3:26-28
Understanding the unity of Christ’s brothers and the relative position of religious authorities, we can better apply Jesus’ exhortation:
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”
– Matthew 7:1-5
In fact, the days of God requiring formal worship has passed. What is relevant to the Father now are the hearts and minds of the individuals, not a particular religious group. As he said to the Samaritan woman:
“Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
– John 4:21-24
Accordingly, in this 21st century, the ambassadors who are substituting for Christ – the earthly representatives of God’s sovereignty – may be located throughout Christianity. No, all roads do not lead to God, but God can be found on any road. And when you find Him, head north – toward the heavenly kingdom!