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.