The media couldn’t get enough of Pope Francis during his recent visit to the United States. Americans were falling all over themselves just to get a passing glimpse of him. Americans are no different from those in most of the rest of the world. They all admire the pope. But have you ever wondered why the world doesn’t react this way to Jesus? Why does the media barely mention His name? Why is there so little interest in His message of salvation? What is it about the pope that makes him more acceptable to world than Jesus is? I think I might have the answer.
The pope focuses on the here and now, whereas Jesus’ emphasis was and is on the world to come. The pope directs his attention to worldly kingdoms and is even the head of one himself. Jesus eschewed worldly kingdoms in favor of a heavenly kingdom. He certainly never advocated the use of earthly governments to redistribute wealth. The pope’s teachings are all about the material world, things such as social justice and protecting the environment. Although Jesus did command us to help the poor, His primary interest is in our spiritual well-being. The pope seeks to unite people, but Jesus said His message is like a two-edged sword that will naturally cause divisions among even members of the same family.
The pope speaks about good works and forgiveness of sin but never says anything about the need to repent and surrender one’s life to Christ as the ultimate cure for sin. He rarely mentions the importance of holiness and obedience to God. Jesus said our good works, which the prophet Isaiah compares to filthy rags, are meaningless without faith in Him, and that He is the only path to salvation. The people of the world can understand the pope because he speaks to them about things they have knowledge of. However, secular people cannot understand Jesus because they have been blinded by Satan when it comes to the things of God that Jesus declares to the world.