Friday, November 2, 2012


If you were form your impression of western culture from a 5 minute trip of the internet, you'd probably come to these few conclusions:  1) The devil's name is Justin Bieber. 2) Christianity and atheism are in an epic and never ending battle to the death.  3) Christians can only relate to the world in complaints.  Now, while I can't necessarily comment on the truth value of the first two, I can and will say that the last item is false.  We are not creatures of complaint, at least we're not supposed to be.  Unfortunately, that seems to be the case these days.  Christians seem to be the greatest sense of accusation, of complaint, of bemoaning the modern culture.  We always hear of Christian preachers proclaiming fire and brimstone, condemning and denouncing our modern generation.  We see Christians spewing out hatred and judgement, giving downcast looks and showing great dissatisfaction with a myriad of modern issues.  By many measures, Christianity seems to be more focused on eradicating evil than spreading good.

You can tell he's British
by his dental care.
Now, before you get the wrong impression, let me clarify: Christians ought to fight evil.  They ought to fight it passionately, even more passionately than they are now.  Evil must be eradicated in every time and every place, and Christians ought to be the flag-bearers in this effort.  However, it seems our modern efforts aren't quite effective.  Let me explain...  G.K Chesterton, the British apologist and author, once said, "A good soldier doesn't fight because he hates what's in front of him, he fights because he loves what's behind him."  As Christians today, we seem to be passionate, not because of what we love, but because of what we hate.  I will ardently oppose efforts to legalize gay marriage, not because I hate gays or love or because I just get a kick out of oppressing people different from me.  I oppose gay marriage because I love the traditional family, the great and true expression of human sexuality and erotic love.

In many ways, we Christians have forgotten how to love the world around us.  When we wake up every morning, fearful of the day and the wrongs we might confront, we're missing the point.  Christianity isn't a losing battle, its a celebration.  Check your liturgical calendar, we have feast days all the time.  Why?  Because we celebrate!  Christianity is a joyous expression, a gleeful shout that first erupted 2000 years ago on Easter morning.  We are the people bearing the Gospel, the Good News.  If we truly understood the gravity of the News that we are to proclaim to the world, we would have no time to complain.  We would be unable to frown, we'd never stop laughing and shouting in sheer exhilaration, because we are the first light of a dawn in the day that never ends.  We are light and salt, we are the joy of the world.

These children are happy.  Now please,
I'd love to hear why you are not.
I find it incredibly concerning whenever our culture does not think of Christians as the joyful people.  I cringe when I see a world that is afraid of Christianity because they think of it as an imprisonment, as dwelling in archaic fear.  Our world has confused Christianity with its exact opposite.  Christianity is not a domain in fear, it is the freedom from fear.  The Cross of Jesus Christ is not a sign of oppression, but of liberation.  Jesus Christ isn't good news for middle-class white Americans, Jesus Christ is good news for all humanity.  The message of Christ transcends time and cultures, it is the invitation to joy for all peoples.  Heaven was not won for the well-behaved, it was won for the joyful, for the exuberant, for the redeemed.

When a Christian meets the world, it is his joy that is his greatest weapon.  Christianity best conquers the human heart not with the sword, but with the outstretched arm, with the invitation to life.  As a Christian, I must wake up every morning, not gritting my teeth because my enemies exist, but resplendently joyful because God has made his dwelling among men.  If Christians are fighting a battle in this day and age, it is a battle already won.  We have no place to cringe, no right to grit and gnash our teeth, because we are living testimonies to God's goodness.  Consider Paul:  "Creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the Children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.  We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now."  (Romans 8: 19-22).  We're Christian for Christ's sake!  Consider what that means if we truly believe the message we proclaim!  If we really live the Word we read, the Eucharist we receive;  if we truly consider the sheer audacity of our faith, we would all but die of joy.

Oh you Christian, you have no excuse to be sad!  You have no right to mourn, because the Risen Christ lives and dwells in you, and is using you to redeem the world!  Celebrate this truth!  Proclaim in any way you can the love Jesus Christ has for humankind!  Start by doing something other than internet-surfing.

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