Jessica Nguyen won first place in the 2017 Friars' Student Writing Awards contest. Photo by Jean Ko Din

Look not with pride but with the love of God

By  Jessica Nguyen
  • February 14, 2017

The following is Jessica Nguyen’s winning essay for the 2017 Friars’ Student Writing Awards contest:

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, a reminder of yet another huge division in Christianity. 

However, despite the internal bickering and discord in the Christian faith, Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and Protestants should all be considered the chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and God’s own people. This is because despite being split apart by differing principles, values and understandings of the Bible, the fact remains they all believe in only one God and His gift of salvation.

In the 1500s, there was only one church in Western Europe. At the time, Pope Leo X wanted to raise money to rebuild St. Peter’s Basilica and so allowed the sale of indulgences to be collected. The sale of indulgences were donations made by the followers of the Church in hopes to reduce the time they spent in purgatory for their sins.

Martin Luther was one of many people who were concerned with how the Church and its doctrines were not in accordance to the words of the Bible. He was worried how God’s gift of salvation, given freely, was being used by the Church to urge followers to actively seek it by tying admittance to heaven with money.

When Luther posted his 95 theses talking about his differing opinions on how the Church should be conducted, Luther and the Church argued and could not reach an agreement. And thus, the Church forcibly excommunicated him sparking the Protestant Reformation in 1517.

Christianity has undergone multiple divisions from the different opinions of principles, values and how the Christian faith should be conducted. However one must ask — what is a Christian?

The word Christian means a believer of Christ who accepts the fact that Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins as God’s gift of salvation. That notion is what connects us all together. 2 Corinthians 5:15-16 states, “And He died for all... So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.”

Since Jesus sacrificed his life for us we must no longer compare people to ourselves, to see their faults and feel superior to them. Instead, we must look through the lens of God to see that Jesus died to save everyone, so that we may be compassionate, loving and accepting no matter what.

I, myself, like it when I can tell others my beliefs, however it is always those closest to you that cause you to be more offended when they refuse to listen and insist you are wrong. In my experience the best way to deal with this is to listen less to my pride and more to the love I have for them.

The same should occur with Christians. Instead of using non-important matters to justify isolation and anger we should remember God’s sacrifice and look at everyone through God’s lens. Only then can we sacrifice our pride, see each other as equals and unify Christianity despite our views.

(Nguyen, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton Catholic Secondary School in Toronto.)