Friday, September 26, 2008

I'm Religious, Not Spiritual: A Word About Sacrifice

Carolina Cannonball, who I have said could be my twin separated at birth, has written a post recently about spiritual quitters and slackers. The quitters are those who have left the Catholic church because they couldn't accept the hard moral beliefs of our faith.

The "slackers" are those who have stayed behind and drag everything down. In fact, some of them try to make it miserable for the rest of us. Instead of just admitting they're really Protestants and joining some church that does ordain women and gays, they prefer to stay within the Catholic church and attempt to remake it into their own image - which is a very flesh-like image, I may add.

The whole point of Jesus Christ coming to earth was to redeem man. This redemption took place as Jesus willingly laid down His life and became the Lamb of God - who took away the sin of the world. He was crucified unjustly but yet God's justice was satisfied by this Perfect Offering. Jesus embraced His cross, knowing His heavenly Father would receive the greater glory.

However, Jesus also did something that is often forgotten by church-goers. He is the Perfect Pattern. It is by watching Him and emulating His behavior that we also are given the grace to travel the same path, to sacrifice as He would have us sacrifice and love as He would have us love. It is His sacrifice I think about when pondering the state of His church today.

When I refer to "church," I am going to include our Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ. Although they are separated brethren, they still are trying to follow Him. There are many people who are aware of their daily faith, how they respond to the world and have nothing but a desire to please God in their hearts. Those aren't the people who concern me.

The ones who do concern me are those who want to remake the church in their own image instead of conforming themselves to the image of Christ.

We are to be transformed by Him, by God's truth, by His great love for mankind. We are not to be transformed by the world but yet this is exactly what has happened in churches that want to be "relevant" to our culture. Ugh. I cannot tell you how much this irritated me when I was in my twenties and it irritates me even more now. We are NOT to appeal to the world with outstretched hands, begging to be accepted into their cool and trendy little clubs. We are NOT to minimize the power of the Gospel in order to be more "palatable" to the world. We are NOT to twist Scripture into personalized outfits, branding our faith as if it's the latest clothing line from Tommy Hilfiger.

In fact, when it comes to Truth (who is Jesus Christ), one size really does fit all. And as much as we chafe against the rough threads of Truth because it scrubs against our selfish flesh with such persistence, we are still required to put it on. As St. Paul said, we are to:

Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph. 4:22-24)

Where is the transformation when some Christians are marching lockstep with the world, who are demanding "equal rights for gays" and the ordination of women into the priesthood? Where is the renewal of the spirit of the mind when these same people insist that the church must "progress" in order to be relevant to our society?

You know, the Truth has stood for two millennia and more. I don't think it's going to lose it's potency because it's not concerned about being relevant, but by being faithful.

Jesus was disappointed often by the lack of faith His disciples had. He even went so far as to say, "And when the Son of man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8) Where is that faith? Why is it that faith must undergo some sort of warped reality show make-over in order to be presented to the world? Why does faith have to be sugar-coated, mass-produced, and then gift-wrapped in shiny paper to attract the world?

You know what folks are really attracted to? Authenticity. Forget the wrapping, the slick marketing ads, the carefully crafted slogans - they want real. This is why I believe Gov. Sarah Palin has struck such a deep chord in the minds of so many. She's real. She is so doggone real that she stands in stark contrast to all the spinmeisters who love nothing more than to coat their candidate with a thick layer of gloss. People look at her and say, "I'd like to be around her. I'd like to even share a beer with her and tell her what I think about this country." And they sense she'd listen.

Well, I'm laying down a gauntlet, ladies and gents. I'm tired of the woefully anemic "spiritual" label that is so "cool" to wear these days. "Oh..." the Oprah-robots will say, "I'm spiritual. But still Christian!" Bleh. Enough already. Just admit it. We are enemies of the world. We have nothing in common with the world, or at least shouldn't. We are an anomaly, marching toward a different destination than the self-seeking, pleasure-lusting world. We are in mortal combat, deflecting the wiles of the enemy who continues to try to lure us with promises of ease and likability. (And if there is one thing some Christians so desperately want - it is to be liked.)

So. Here is my new motto: Religious, Not Spiritual.

In fact, stay tuned because I'm going to put it on a t-shirt. Yep. And I'm going to wear it. In fact, I'm going to go to some huge mall - maybe even around Christmas, and wear it. I might even do the baseball cap with this motto, too. Yes, I'm going to do my own "advertising campaign" but with a twist.

I'll be setting up a Cafe Press to do it. I just feel it's time that we who are loving our God take a stand for religion. Religion is often mocked because of its uncompromising precepts. And Catholicism is especially mocked because it simply won't change like the wind in order to please those who have yet to die to self. So the t-shirt is going to have a Catholic-flavor to it.

For me, it's time to take a stand and say how very badly we need those precepts right now. No more playing footsie with the world. At least not on my turf.


Janny said...

Put me down for one of those shirts!



joannaB73 said...

I think I'll have one that says - "I'm Catholic and proud of it!"

X said...

You GO, Girl!!!!!

Kimberly said...

I have had the experience of having fellow parishoners ask if I had a tubal ligation following the birth of baby #5. I said no, and also after#s 6,7,8&9. They can't decide if I am hopelessly ignorant or chronically stupid. I always reply hopefully catholic.