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On Being a Catholic Christian:

It is a Luxury to Be Understood

 

Being a Christian today can be riddled with challenges and awkward times. Being a believing Christian is not for the faint of heart, or for those looking for popularity or worldly reward. However, they are compelled to embrace the high road whenever humanly possible, even to the dismay of others. In actuality, being a modern day believing Christian sometimes involves being surrounded by hostile, lukewarm souls that chide them for their ways and beliefs. So who will help Christians today to stay the course and embrace the power of the Holy Spirit, and the way of the Lord with zeal, fervor and continuity of faith? For me, the answer is simple: I say, Jesus Christ himself.

These days, the term ‘Christian’ has somehow been distorted. Sad to say, some believe the term is one that describes hypocritical thinking and behavior, others conjuring up thoughts of incongruous piety as they observe self-professed Christians sorely lacking in continuity of faith. They could not be further from the truth. One good example of such distortions is the politician who claims to be a Catholic Christian but in name only, who stands, promotes and votes for the heinous atrocities of abortion, euthanasia and the death penalty.

Even the un-churched easily see the flagrant disregard for God of such politicians. Anyone can watch the news and spot these Biblically tepid “leader” souls. However, it is also true that one may personally know someone for many years before making such a personal find. This is not meant as a judgement of anyone, but rather as an observation. This is especially true of those who ascribe to, and hide behind, the old adage, “Never talk politics or religion.” If we follow this popular philosophy, how will we ever share what is most important in this life and the next and grow?

True Christians are uniquely called to peacefully and humbly walk with God. It’s not that they are so good, or deserving of God’s love, but it is the striving soul that turns to God in humility when hurting and also to Him in gratitude. This gratitude translates into the privilege of grace, as believing Christians know that all that we have, all that we are able to do, comes from God himself. For it is a blessed thing to be called to humbly walk the Christian life. As the song “We are called” by David Haas says:

We are called to act with justice.
We are called to love tenderly.
We are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God.

In reality, a believing Christian is simply a striving soul who tries to live according to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Yes, we all fall short, yet this is our express goal that echoes in our hearts and minds. It is the fuel of our deepest, fervent convictions. Most often, these are Bible reading people with a personal relationship with Jesus, their Savior. A peculiar people to those around them, Christians are called to live by the high road in opposition to the way of the world, and for that, sometimes set apart and often largely misunderstood. But remember this:

“It is a luxury to be understood.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

And the differences continue on as we consider this. Christians are compelled to turn to God at every turn to restore lost peace, promote comfort, seek protection, and even sublime joy in adversity, despite how they may feel about any given person or in any circumstance. By trying their very best to work for peace, believing Christians frequently forfeit opportunities to strive to preserve their own reputations, avoid having to have the last word, resist the urge to ‘fight back’ when wronged, and try to restrain from lashing out at others. It is not perfection that drives them, but it is the love of God that compels them to seek the high road whenever possible.

Perhaps you have heard the Catholic faith referred to as the “Catholic thing.” In a worldly sense, it is very easy for other people to compartmentalize Christians by being dismissive of them and their faith. Modern culture promotes and condones this disrespect, and it is almost impossible to remedy. It is possible to be a Christian in name only, an experience that is akin to membership in a club rather than choosing the road to seek Jesus and grow in faith.

With Jesus, there is continuity in faith that includes a general respect for that which is Godly, a kinship with the Divine that calls for rising above one’s comfort zone. For with the fervent believing Christian soul, there is a zeal and kindness that is best expressed through love, compassion and charity poorly understood by the world at large, but it is not always easy, to say the least. All too often, the worldly are allergic to such fervent souls and attempt to dampen their spirits. But it doesn’t need to happen that way. There is no need to become a doormat for those who cause divisions and obstacles to what you have learned of Christ. For the Bible tells us:

“I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.” Romans 16:17
Yes, sometimes believing Christians do feel sad, rejected, abandoned, angry, helpless, hopeless, or complacent in the face of obstacles or difficult circumstances. It is all part of the human condition. It is easy to see why Christians must be patient, persistent and self-controlled in their dealings with others, even as they eventually grow to become sojourners in this world to some extent. Unlike the ways of the world, this is a sign of progress for growing in Christian life, as we are reminded not to get too comfortable as this life is just the waiting room for all of eternity.

Like anyone else, believing Christians often naturally look to others for answers and consolation when presented with hurtful, toxic, or difficult people, and challenging situations. The difference is that they are able to eventually move on, by the grace of God, through activated faith, prayer and Holy Scripture, as they seek counsel and comfort in Jesus Christ alone. Paradoxically this allows believing Christians to flourish and realize the greatest hope, peace and joy they have ever known, even in a world hostile to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

 










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1 comment

  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    “In actuality, being a modern day believing Christian sometimes involves being surrounded by hostile, lukewarm souls that chide them for their ways and beliefs."
    .
    Hostility begets hostility and indeed, one of the main things Christians, especially Catholics, are chided for is their hostility. Christianity is becoming widely known as the “religion of hostility to the other." That is why the young are bailing out in such large numbers.
    .
    And of course the beliefs must be questioned, given that the basis for them has evaporated. There was no six day creation, no Adam and Eve, no global flood, no mass Exodus from Egypt and no conquest of Canaan. The Abrahamic religions are based on these mythical events, and their gods no longer have a foundation on which to exist, so of course we must challenge Bronze Age mythology in the face of what we objectively know today.
    .
    Some beliefs are deserving of hostility and lack of respect. Should we respect a person who would worship a god, an all-powerful being who would send mere mortals to eternal torment in hellfire for any reason whatsoever? Sure, fear such an evil being, yes – but worship this monster? What greater evil could there be than to have such an unjust eternal punishment while we live here but a few decades, and this all-powerful being presumably knows in advance where we will end up? I see little difference in worshipping such a being and worshipping Adolf Hitler, who was nowhere near that evil, and find it difficult to respect a person who does so. If that’s “hostile," then so be it. Any god who would do such a thing has expanded the definition of “hostile" beyond all measure and is the epitome of evil. (Fortunately, there is no foundation for the four mythical, pagan Hells in the bible).
    .
    The author suggests that Christians take the high road and remain steadfast in their beliefs, but you will surely learn much more and be able to trust your own beliefs if you can discuss and debate them. The way to go about it is to seek out your debating opponent’s information and research it so that you can counter it….. if you can… and that will be the problem, as you will discover. You may be surprised at how easily some beliefs are challenged – like the biblical support for a pagan Hell…. Even the historicity of Jesus can easily be questioned using the NT itself.
    .
    “we are reminded not to get too comfortable as this life is just the waiting room for all of eternity."
    .
    I think this is at the root of many, if not most, of the problems we have here on our planet today. Who cares? Why should we care about this place, when our whole reason for being here is to get from here, to over there, wherever it is that our god is. This does not even motivate us to leave the earth in a decent place for our children. All that matters is that we believe, say and do the right thing so that we (the world always revolves around us!) can be saved. Screw anything else. Screw the human race. Just get saved. And what if that salvation is completely unnecessary and we have squandered an opportunity to allow our human genome, our human race to prosper and continue to evolve in ever more amazing ways? This idea that we’re just in a holding room taking entry exams will end up destroying our planet – and that seems to be the goal of the Abrahamic religions which all look with anxious and hopeful expectation for that final day, when it’s all destroyed.

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