As someone with Catholic ancestry, who has various Catholic friends, and who has worked in a Catholic education setting, I have learned so much from Catholics. My Catholic friends and family have taught me about God’s creativity, his sovereignty over our minds, his supernatural nature, and the various ways Catholic movements have stewarded the power of God. Today, I hope to raise an important topic that historically, has divided Protestants, Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholics. My ultimate hope is that through conversations such as these, we as Christians across denominational lines can sharpen one other “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ“. Therefore, I hope that conversations such as this one will only strengthen the commitment that my Catholic brothers and sisters and I have to one another.
Despite the challenging nature of this topic and in spite of the risks that challenging conversations carry, I am writing today to discuss how the deification of Mary is linked to discrimination against women in leadership (misogyny) and patterns of sexual sin (perversion).
Throughout my years in conversation with Catholics, I have seen many people’s genuine devotion to the Virgin Mary. I know that many people are drawn to the Virgin Mary as a symbol of perseverance, nurturing solidarity, and purity. I believe that much of the esteem that Catholics have for Mary of Nazareth is reasonable, if you examine what we know of her story.
One of my favorite aspects of the story of Mary of Nazareth is that for all Christians, Mary pre-figures the Church. She is an example of unconditional surrender, who allows God to come very close and suffered the cost of Christ’s ministry alongside him. She saw Yahweh as her just, righteous, powerful Deliverer. She was willing to move where God told her to move. She allowed her heart to be moved for the sake of others. Ultimately, she put her hope in a future Deliverer who would restore the hope of her people and free them from oppression.
Unlike many Classical and Medieval paintings and Eastern Icons, Mary and her family members would have touched Christ’s skin. She would have cared for him while he remained helpless, as an example of how Christ entrusted his very life over to the Church. Secular historians can give us some sense of what her daily life would have been like, and illustrate some of the challenges she may have faced.
Prior to the year 1100, the Church would have rightly honored Mary’s sacrifices. Within Eastern Orthodox churches, that pattern of honor remains strong. However, around the year 1100, devotees began to introduce the belief that Mary was born, conceived, and lived until death without original sin and personal sin. This doctrine became known as “The Immaculate Conception of Mary,” initially introduced by a monk named Eadmer of Canterbury in England. This doctrine grew in popularity and scholarly debate throughout the 12th and 13th centuries. Much of the debate stemmed from the fact that within the cannon of scripture, it is one of just several doctrines of the Catholic Church that is entirely without scriptural evidence. Despite its initial controversy, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary was re-popularized by the Marianists of the 18th century, and ratified as doctrine by Pope Pius IX in 1854.
For Protestant Christians, the belief that Mary could be without sin indicates that she would have been superhuman, similar if not co-equal with Christ. Indeed, there are factions of Catholics today who strongly believe and advocate to the Vatican that Mary is a “Co-Redemptrix”, along with Christ.
During the 13th century, St. Thomas Aquinas was initially strongly against the concept of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. According to Aquinas,
“If the soul of the Blessed Virgin had never been stained with the contagion of original sin, this would have detracted from Christ’s dignity as the savior of all men.”
According to this article, Thomas recognized that if Mary were without sin, she would not need a Savior; the Bible would then be wrong in saying Jesus was the Savior of all men and that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; there is none righteous, no not one.” (Romans 3:23)
As Aquinas has identified, without needing a Savior and without needing the atonement of Christ, Mary cannot pre-figure the Church, who is dependent on God’s grace to be included in his redemption story.
Without her own sin, Mary cannot pre-figure the Church as a second Eve.
Without her own sin, Mary cannot pre-figure the Church that Christ entrusted with himself, in weakness.
In order to assign Mary a co-equal role with Christ, aspects of Yahweh’s perfect divinity would need to be shared among multiple lesser Gods (Christ, Mary, and potentially other holy figures). While dividing the deity of Yahweh between Christ and Mary may have been more attractive and familiar to converts from a polytheist culture, to incarnate God as less than the fullness of Yahweh would not be his true representation. We are told in Colossians 2:9-10, “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness”. Christ is “the head over every power and authority“, and no other figures past or present (including members of the Cloud of Witnesses, ie Saints) have the power to bring us into the fullness of God.
Reasons Why People Create an Idol
I would like to suggest that by making Mary of Nazareth co-equal with Christ, Marianists have ultimately lost sight of her story and made her into an idol.
When someone creates an idol, they
- Remove an aspect of the character of God Almighty
- Re-apportion it to another deity or object
- Re-attribute their worship to that deity or object
In a modern context, idolatry can include elevating any person, substance, or vehicle of pleasure into God-like status. Check out this explaination of Idolatry from the Bible Project here.
One of the first examples of idolatry among the Israelites started not because they doubted the power or holiness of God, but because they were afraid of him. In Exodus 32, just as soon as Moses begins to descend Mount Sinai, the people panic. For 40 days, Moses had been on the mountain with the Lord, receiving the instructions that would form the law. Through the Law, God would introduce a higher standard so that they develop a desire for holiness which the Holy Spirit would then later empower them to attain through Jesus.
At this point, the people know that God had provided for their needs while in Egypt. But when God’s presence descended on Mount Sinai, they saw his raw power and authority, and were afraid.
“Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently.”Exodus 19:18
In fear, the people respond to God’s power and authority by remaining at a distance. At this point, they seem to have forgotten that the same God of all power and authority was the one who provided for their every need while in the wilderness. While they are still relatively young in their relationship with the Lord, they don’t seem to have an interest in learning about his character more fully, and are content to leave the relationship building to Moses.
When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightening, the sounding of the ram’s horn, and the mountain enveloped in smoke, they trembled and stood at a distance. “Speak to us yourself and we will listen,” they said to Moses. “But do not let God speak to us, or we will die.”
“Do not be afraid,” Moses replied. “For God has come to test you, so that the fear of Him may be before you, to keep you from sinning.” And the people stood at a distance as Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.”Exodus 20:18-20
This fearful decision to disengage from the fullness of God was then demonstrated when instead of worshipping God alone, as they had just agreed to do, the people melted the golden jewelry the Lord had won them into a Golden Calf. Moses descends the mountain into this scene of mixture and is understandably frustrated.
In spite of all that God had done to support them in their time of need, the people preferred a deity with less power and authority. Essentially, they wanted to reject God’s standards in order to create their own. And based on their desire for distance and their rejection of God’s standard, their decision to create an idol makes sense. Idols are always easier to please than the Living God, for:
“They have mouths but cannot speak, and eyes but cannot see. They have ears but cannot hear, and noses but cannot smell. They have hands but cannot feel, and feet but cannot walk, and throats but cannot make a sound. And those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them.”Psalm 115:5-8
Sadly, God does not interpret this rejection as a rejection of his rules, but of himself. God’s entire purpose in giving them his standard was to draw them into a covenant of intimacy and understanding his character. He ultimately offered them himself, as he later has done for all people through Jesus. Unlike any other people group during this time in history, he offered them an exclusive covenant to experientially know him.
The Lord is unlike any other, and his glory he will not share.
I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.Isaiah 42:8
God will not tolerate our mixture indefinitely, and in choosing idolatry over intimacy with the Living God, people maintain him at a distance. Sadly, these patterns of distance from God can be learned subconsciously, and can be further exacerbated by negative experiences with authority figures (especially our fathers). Regardless of our denominations, the cultures of our families and organizations can prime us towards intimacy or distance with God.
Furthermore, within each century and location, there are cultural factors can make us uncomfortable with the full expression of who God is. Within 12 and 13th century Europe, cultural factors left room for people to misunderstand the character of God and dualistically create an idol that could house the aspects of his character that their worldview was lacking.
As I will address below, the decision to idolize Mary of Nazareth was a born out of a misogynistic context that gnostically misinterpreted sexual purity. I am writing today because the discrimination against women in leadership (misogyny) and patterns of sexual sin that the Catholic Church currently faces are tied to that initial 12th and 13th century context. The only way to fully resolve the gender and sexuality crises within the Catholic Church will be to re-attribute praise to solely the Holy Trinity.
How the European Culture of the 12th and 13th centuries left room to Idolize Mary of Nazareth
So what aspects of God’s character did the 12th and 13th century European world struggle to appreciate? What cultural factors could have contributed to the popularity of this belief system?
Confused Sexual Ethics and Theology
Within the first 500 years of Church history, sexual ethics (like purity, holiness, abstinence, virginity, and matrimony) were enormous topics that transformed their cultures of origin. While Christian sexual ethics provided some new opportunities and protection to women, minors, and slaves, the Medieval Western European understanding of sexual value and gender roles linked the theology of holiness to sexual purity to virginity in a way that continues today. Scholars in the Medieval period (~500-1500) reflected and expanded these themes, conflating bodily virginity and abstinence with purity of heart. And yet, this is a false understanding of purity. Instead of focusing solely on physical acts, Jesus focused on purity of heart in relation to sex by challenging us to revolutionize our internal senses of desire. Once we give access to the Holy Spirit to help us navigate our sexual desire and be internally accountable to him, by God’s strength a revolution of our physical behavior can follow. Instead, Medieval leaders focused on the body to an extreme. Instead of drawing us to true repentance and helping us celebrate the Lordship of Jesus, a combination of penitential codes and strict fasting rules based on the liturgical calendar distracted the church. While fasting can elevate your awareness of God and help you retrain your desire towards God, even Jesus said, “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” creating structures of asceticism, that defined your purity of heart solely through your actions (as in, self denial), the European churches failed to teach and preach true purity of heart. By enshrining virginity and a man-made sense of purity (as “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God“), the church avoided dealing with more challenging internal issues.
Masculinity and Misunderstand of God’s Grace
In 12th and 13th century Medieval Europe, these ideas reached a tipping point. In the 1200s, Eadmer of Canterbury is the first person historians believe to have formally scribed the theory of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. In his writing, Eadmer’s main idea was that Mary must have been without sin if she could be so close to God that she became pregnant. It appears that Medieval scholars assumed that in order to be favored by God, she must be superhuman. To Modern eyes, these scholars seem to have an under-realized understanding of God’s grace. Most modern readers would assert that God chose to love human beings in spite of their inherent weakness, and through the atonement and the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit, make up the difference. Therefore, God (in theory) doesn’t necessarily choose Mary because she is without sin, but for his own rationale. It is possible that Mary did indeed have a high degree of purity of heart. And yet, we as the Church are a collective of people who like Mary, we were not chosen by God for our own personal merits. Every good gift we have comes from the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, and God’s power to overcome our weakness. Medieval authors struggled to understand grace, misinterpreted purity of heart, and overemphasized Mary’s initial virginity to create a deified version of Mary of Nazareth that they called The Virgin Mary.
Once again, unlike the idealized Virgin Mary, like the Church, Mary of Nazareth would have needed God’s help. She likely did have some degree of purity of heart, otherwise she would not have been so receptive to the angel’s instructions. As is widely believed by Christians and proclaimed by the Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed, it is likely that she did indeed retain her physical virginity at the time she conceived Christ. However, Mary’s purity wasn’t defined by her physical state of virginity, and it wasn’t formed during her conception, her birth, or life. Mary’s purity was first developed in her heart, when she chose to trust Yahweh with her life, and then later, her son Jesus. Just like the rest of us, Mary’s only true justification came through her faith in God. While we do well to honor Mary, when it comes to worship, we should go to the one who she considered the source.
God’s Authority is Already Feminine (and Masculine)
Combined with sexism against women, gender roles that posited all formal authority as male, a confused understanding of purity of heart would have made Medieval authors struggle to make sense of God’s ambiguous nature as neither male nor female. While they honored Mary for the purity that their worldview prioritized, but did not recognize the co-existence of divinity that was simultaneously authoritative and female. Over time, they began to not just honor, but worship Mary for her informal leadership and the aspects of femininity that their understanding of God lacked. In a hierarchal society that associated masculinity with social distance and power, Mary was a more approachable intercessor and fountain of grace than Jesus. Without a fully formed understanding of grace, approaching Mary removed the dissonance of standing before a perfectly holy God. Instead of allowing God’s character to alter their understanding of gender and power, in their discomfort, leaders seem to have simply reallocated the “too feminine” aspects of God’s character to another deity. Their root sin was a rejection of God’s character.
By reallocating the femininity of God to Mary of Nazareth, leaders continued the trend within their established cultures of reduced the image bearing capacity of female parishioners and excluded them from formal leadership. Over time, choosing to appeal to Mary as an intermediary to the divine has continued to amplify this root sin of rejecting God’s character, continuing a trend of alienation from grace. It has made Catholics fearful of interfacing directly with God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, instead preferring to interface with other figures (such as Saints, the Virgin Mary, Angels, and other heavenly host). Without an exclusive emphasis on fellowship with the Holy Trinity, who exclusively mediate grace, people then are left to seek other avenues of holiness. Since the Holy Spirit is what purifies our hearts, convicts us of sin, and reveals Jesus to us, there can be no grace, justification, or heart change through bypassing the Holy Trinity.
Resulting Distance from God
So what happens if we rely on any other source other than the Holy Trinity to be our sense of purity or our intermediary before God? Just as Mary images the Church, the polytheist worship of Mary and Jesus symbolizes a life only partially submitted the the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This would mean that the Church is her own savior, and isn’t dependent on grace. If the Church is free to worship herself, our split attention will form us to the conditions of the world, which is ruled by comfort.
Furthermore, ascribing away the Father’s nurturing qualities of God to Mary of Nazareth fuels gender divisions. Within the Catholic Church, lack of intimacy with the nurturing Father Heart of God and strong protective feminine aspects of his character keeps the denomination from seeing women as strong leaders. Like spiritual gifts, the roles that the Holy Spirit assigns us (apart from the protective, sacrificially loving role of headship in marriage) are genderless. This remind’s me of Leif Hetland’s preaching, in which he frequently says, “Men can be the Bride, Women can be sons.”
So far I’ve explained the links between deifying Mary, misunderstanding the feminine aspects of God’s divine nature, misunderstanding sexual purity, and sexism against women and women in leadership.
Healing from Generational Sexual Sin and Misogyny Today
How does all of this relate to healing from generational sexual sin (perversion) in the Church (including the Catholic Church)?
Before I answer this question, it’s important to explain the difference between healthy Christian sexuality and sexual perversion. Primarily, sexual perversion is a category of sin where sexual behavior cannot mirror the kind, safe, holy, willfully chosen, covenantal love of God. While God isn’t sexual, his love for humanity is the most creative, the most beautiful, the most holy, the most joyful, and the most satisfying of all loves. Healthy Christian sexuality does not mirror God’s sexuality, because in the bible, God doesn’t appear to have a human like sexuality. He is passionate, but we don’t know him to be sexual in a human sense. Instead, healthy Christian sexuality mirror God’s character: his creativity, beauty, holiness, joy, playfulness, satisfaction, and even holy-jealousy for his people. For this reason, Christians believe that sex should embody all these things.
Without understanding the safety of the father’s agape love on a personal level, without the guiding conviction of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ, and without the power of the Holy Spirit to influence our desires, we struggle to love others well in any sense of the word. Since Christians believe that God designed humans to mirror him through Jesus on a personal, familial, and organizational level, when sex does not exemplify God’s character, Christians believe that the stewardship of sexuality can affect the spiritual, emotional, and physical wellbeing of individuals, families, and cultures. Due to the way God created sex to mirror his own character, Christians believe that goodness of sexual acts is defined by how closely they approximate God, not necessarily the person’s physical response. This is an important distinction because in unsafe situations, our bodies can respond to sexual stimuli regardless of if it is pleasurable. Even within an extremely safe, loving context, our bodies can fail to perform as we want them too or we may struggle to emotionally engage in way that makes sex pleasurable. Out of the outstanding teachers on Christian sexuality I have read, I would most recommend the work of Sheila Gregoire for people recovering from sexual abuse or struggling to have a good sex life within marriage.
Christians believe that God gave us the first human organization through the family (Adam, Eve, and their children). As a prototypal organization, the family has the power to influence other organizations. All humans have a desire to belong, and as organizations grow in health, they begin to take on aspects of the character of healthy families. God gave the nations a variety of different cultural understandings on how to be family. Each of these understandings is a gift to the Church to understand, to the best of our abilities how to adopt one another and be God’s family here on the earth. Check out what the Catholic Education Research Center has to say about the importance of family here.
Healing for Organizations
At their best, organizations that mirror God’s character will also mirror his healthy family dynamics and provide greater emotional wellbeing. Healthy family dynamics will include healthy gender roles, and a necessary sharing of responsibilities between men and women. A healthy organization will effect the friendships, co-working patterns, and even marriages that arise from an organization. Shared leadership between men and women is the strongest possible model for leadership of organizations: this is why God created marriage and created women as capable partners and helpmates. Adam isn’t meant to lead in isolation, but with women’s help. Furthermore, healthy gender roles can improve the emotional wellbeing of those in an organization. Having a robust internal understanding of your image bearing capacity as male and female provides people a deeper sense of emotional security that can result in a greater sense of latitude before God. In recognition of similarities and appreciation of differences, healthy gender roles generate the sanctified solidarity that the diverse Kingdom of God requires to function effectively.
Co-Reigning Leadership to Model the Masculinity and Femininity of God
Organizations must honor women by giving them opportunities to practice the gifts assigned to them by the Holy Spirit. Due to the design of the Adam and Eve family, without receiving the gifts of women, the Church cannot function at full capacity. Feel free to check out the work of my favorite theologian on the topic of organizations, the Church, family, women, and leadership, Marg Mowczko.
At their best, organizations that mirror God’s character will also mirror his character in the sexual relationships of their members. While sexual abuse scandals within the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations are an extreme reminder of the sexual perversion our cultures face, we in the Church must take responsibility for creating atmospheres where healthy sexuality can flourish. Due to the cumulative nature of sexual sin, we must also search ourselves to make sure that we are not hypocritically accusing others of sexual sin when we ourselves are in perversion. We know as Christians that rape incest, and sodomy are evil, and against God’s design for sex. We are rightly horrified at the way that church leaders have victimized children and other vulnerable people. We know that these sins cannot mirror the goodness of God’s character, because at their core, they are evil. While condemning evil can be valuable, we as Christians must allow God to help us address any sexual perversion in our own lives if we expect to have any transformation power (ie, healthy influence) for Church or society. Sexual purity starts with a pure heart.
Worship Jesus as the Only Path to Experientially Knowing the Holy Trinity
We must honestly ask for God’s help and face these (and other similar sins) if we want to create families and atmospheres where healthy sexuality and healthy gender roles can thrive. We need a revelation of the Father’s love and purity of heart if individuals, families, and organizations are going to heal from sexual perversion. That healing intimacy can only come through Jesus, as he is the only way to the Father.
When groups of people commit to drawing near to Jesus to receive his love and healing, we will see spiritual fatherlessness healed, sexual perversion turned to purity of heart and holiness, divorce rates decrease, healthy men and women in leadership, and Jesus exalted above every other name (including the Virgin Mary) as the solution.
So what now? Re-attributing Praise
What can people do when they realize that Jesus is the only source of healing and path to the Father? How can worshiping Jesus displace all other idols and lesser loves?
Jesus is the only path towards true healing, reconciliation, and deliverance. In order to be set free, we simply must reattribute all elements of God’s character back to the Trinity. This is true in navigating the worship of the Virgin Mary, but it is also true in encountering the deities (and idols) of our cultures (including in the West).
In Ancient Israel, the Israelites had a practice of religious rebuttal and story telling called polemics. Basically, they would re-ascribe the attributes of the deities in the cultures they bordered back to Yahweh, the Creator of All. When we worship Yahweh as Creator of all, idols and other gods are displaced.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.Psalm 29:2
Re-Attributing Praise in Ancient Israel
The Ancient Israelites practiced re-ascribing the qualities of Egyptian and Mesopotamian God’s in their story-telling, and this story telling ultimately became the books of Genesis and Exodus. For a book that shows how Ancient Israelites modeled this practice of re-attributing the characteristics of lesser deities to God as Creator of all, I recommend Against the Gods: The Polemical Theology of the Old Testament by John Currid.
As Jesus is God’s representative to gather his family from the nations, in the New Testament, the practice of polemics is expanded by offering the people a chance to come into relationship with the Son of God, Jesus Christ. An outstanding example of this approach is in Acts 17:16-32, where Paul asserts to the Athenians that the worship they offer at their temple to the “Unknown God” should actually be directed at Jesus.
Paul is thoughtful to acknowledge the people’s religious fervor and even quote one of their poets, to honor them and make himself reasonable. Paul is versed in Athenian culture enough to be capable of translating the gospel. This practice of translating the gospel through a lens or medium that the people can understand is called contextual theology. Contextual theology is an approach that has been the basis of authentic Christian evangelism since the times of Jesus. It stands opposed to domination, to systemic reforms that fail to engage the people’s emotions or rely on the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ.
Historically, the church has relied too often on a mixture of Nationalism and religion to influence people groups. In mixture, the Church has worked not for freedom and to share the good news, but often for selfish ambition and greed. This kind of mixture of message (domination > salvation) and idolatry of intentions (money > Christ) is called syncretism. Instead of recognizing the impurity of greed and refocusing on simple worship of Christ, the Church has denied him through different conquests across continents, alienating people from the true gospel. A good book that explores the positive and negative history of the Church’s conduct with local cultures is Bullies and Saints by John Dickson.
How to Re-Attribute Praise Today: A Hypothetical Scenario from Latin America
In Latin America, the greed of the Church through the Spanish, Portuguese, French, English, Dutch, and other national governments used the gospel as a means of domination. Because the Church framed conversion as a means of externally submitting to governmental authority, the locals acted quite reasonably, and externally adopted the practices of Europe. Frequently, locals syncretized elements of Mesoamerican gods and goddesses with the gospel story as a means of preserving their culture and maintaining their worldview under oppression. Today, an example of syncretism could be aspects of Mesoamerican goddesses and the Virgin of Guadelupe as a symbol of perseverance, nurture, and strength in Mexican culture.
Despite the cultural assimilation normally employed under domination, the true gospel does not require people to shed their culture or worldview. After the first Gentile (non-Jewish) believers came to Jesus during Pentecost in Jerusalem, the elders of the church under Peter and Paul’s guidance gave them very minimal requirements of faith in Acts 15:24-29, and promised to simply send them skilled teachers. It is likely that these specific requirements were designed to distinguish the people from other local religious practices as a way of making them distinct.
When the people in Acts 15 experienced real conversion, they began a process of relating their worldview to the new things they had experienced about Jesus. In conversation with the teachers Paul and Peter sent them, the people themselves needed to lead this process of re-attribution. This meant choosing to reject the negative aspects of their previous deities (as a divorce), and re-attributing the positive aspects of their to Jesus Christ.
For example, let us pretend missionaries encountered the Mayans in the city of Copán (modern day Western Honduras) between ~500-1000AD. At that time, the Mayans would have worshipped the maize god Hun Hunahpu, who they believed was responsible for the corn harvest, fertility, and the seasons.
An effective missionary would probably take time to understand what the people appreciated about Hun Hunahpu. Perhaps they felt that they had an advocate who cared about the wellbeing and growth of their families, fruitfulness of their land, who would protect them from natural disasters. However, like many Mayan deities, Hun Hunahpu probably wouldn’t have been considered very approachable, as he required blood sacrifice during individual, family, and regional rituals.
In this context, an effective missionary might first model a different faith by thanking Yahweh for creating all things, including the corn crop. By modeling a faith that trusts in Yahweh for provision and holistic wellness, God’s favor on that person’s life could attract some interest. Unlike Hun Hunahpu, a missionary might present Jesus as a god of mercy who himself was willing to suffer in our place. He or she might even acknowledge Yahweh as the “God of The Harvest”, a title from Matthew 9:38, acknowledging that the is also the God of all things. Because of the fruit of their land and the worldview that has formed around it, these people may even be uniquely positioned to understand evangelism. From a farming lens lens, God could even gift this people group with a special grace for leadership in evangelism (harvesting people), to bless and grow his International Bride.
A Prayer for Undivided Focus on Jesus
Holy Trinity, make us aware of any sins or worship that draw our love away from you alone.
Help us to honor the many people who believe in different Gods, while still holding firm to what we have experienced and seen as true.
Jesus, come live even more powerfully in us so we can not just describe, but show them the way to the Father.
When the people challenge your Lordship, back us with miracles, signs, and wonders, so that they know you can be trusted.
Help us to keep our eyes simply on you and worship you above all.