Today in Rome, the Roman Catholic church made a new saint: Mary Mackillop. Today in church, we began a series on the last section of the book of Romans, chapters 12-16.
The first verse lays down some essential ideas about living as a Christian.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Romans 12:1 (esv)
This verse made me realise again the distance between formal Roman Catholic theology and biblical faith.
In the verse above, the start is God’s mercy. It’s all about the work of God in Jesus Christ. He takes sinners and makes them saints.
In the verse above, the consequence is serving God. Doing good, with the whole of oneself, follows on from what God did.
In the Roman Catholic church – and in the case of Mary Mackillop – the start is serving God. To put it in concrete terms, Mark Mackillop did good things (on earth, and even now beyond the grave).
In the Roman Catholic church – and in the case of Mary Mackillop – the consequence is being made a saint. In concrete terms, Mary becomes a saint today.
It’s all back to front, putting human effort before God’s work.
Sadly, putting people first has further effect in displacing God. For what can saints do? They can hear prayers – a privilege of God alone. They can intercede with God on behalf of those who pray – a privilege of the one mediator, Jesus Christ.
It’s all so sad to see such misplaced confidence on the goodness and saving power of any person apart from Jesus the Lord.