Christianity--2000 years old. What is the point? Is there really one?
It is my opinion that a large portion of western Christianity, especially in the United States has forgotten the point. Now, granted, they wouldn't believe me, or even accept this statement, but they have. You can only make this statement if you take a panoramic view of the Christianity from before it's inception to present.
Presently,What I see in a large chunk of Evangelical Christianity, is that they have noble intentions, but many lack in substance. Having been out of the Evangelical circle for almost 9 years, I have lost personal touch, but it is not that hard to keep in the loop by flipping on any host of cable channels to see churches local and nationwide reaching out with their own message of the gospel and the majority of the time, what I see deeply saddens me. In a way to outreach, houses of worship have transformed themselves into what seems more to appear to be a nightclub than a church. Crosses have been removed, altars are gone and no more kneelers. They have been replaced by wide screen monitors, smoke machines, high tech lighting systems and cappuccino bars in the lobby. I understand the reasoning behind this is to make church more comfortable for those who are not-christian and unchurched. Believe it or not, I have seen some churches that are beginning to meet in bars and adult establishments that are closed on Sunday morning. They are wanting to get people in so they can hear the gospel and know Christ and this is a noble goal, but where has the sacred and holy gone? Communion is on a whim many times, not being celebrated but once a month or once a quarter! Where is the reverence and awe for our God who created the universe by His very word and more than that gave us His only Son as a Sacrifice for our sins? Has the Christian faith broken down so far that we must resort to entertainment to draw people in? Have we forgotten that it is the Holy Spirit that draws men to himself?
Once inside the service one hears uplifting, modern music that excites you and you feel glad to be there. For a short moment of time, you might forget all that you came in with and focus on the worship service at hand. After this, you might hear a very uplifting message, although that might also vary. Many messages out there portray our faith as some type of life preserver that will save you from this world that you are mired in. "Have faith...." because it is God's will for you to have a good, blessed life. It is God's will for you to have a good job, a good marriage, a good spouse and for your life to be full and for you to live it at it's fullest! GOD WANTS TO BLESS YOU!
Does any of this sound familiar?
How does this explain Christians who live with continual suffering in their life? Do they not have enough faith? Are they living in sin? Or could it be that God has actually ordained this suffering for this point in their life...is that a feasible option? I have come to the conclusion that God has higher priorities for us than our happiness and well being. His plan for our lives move well beyond that; and I don't necessarily mean Heaven. In many cases Western Christianity has lost sight of the point of Christianity. Christianity is not just a philosophy, or a series of beliefs. It is not even acknowledging the supremecy of Christ and that he did die on the cross. The Gospels clearly state that there will be some that cry our "Lord, Lord...." and he will reply to them that He never knew them. What does this mean to us?
Our Christianity began before Christ, in Judaism and the Law. God had placed the Law into place as a way for people to move forward past their disobedience into a right relationship with Him. The only problem is that it was completely impossible for anyone to do that. The law was written on stone and it had no life in it. Paul stated very clearly that the Law was given to us to show our inadequacies and that we weren't able to meet the very high standards that God had set for us. So, man was doomed from the beginning as we had been given an unreachable standard. And therefore man must die...and be eternally separated from his Creator. But God had a greater plan. His plan was in His son, "the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father". Through Christ who maintained an inseparable nature of 1oo% God and 1oo% man, the Father allowed this Messiah to take upon himself the punishment that was due all mankind. This is the Christian mystery. As Christ was in His perfect form, co-existent God and man, is the desire that the Father has for us...to be able to exist with Him in perfect unity. And the humanity that Christ was bore upon himself the sins of the world.
More than that, the eternal God that Christ was, means that the sacrifice that Christ made for us is eternal and ongoing...it never stops..it never ends, as he is "one in being with the Father". In this we have the wonderful mystery and Sacrament of the Holy Mass. THERE IS NO GREATER FORM OF WORSHIP EVER, EVER, EVER, THAN THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST, PERIOD! There is nothing that we can do to supercede that. It is simply beyond amazing even more that by the Grace of God and Our Lord Jesus that he has ordained that we are able to participate in that Sacrifice with him, in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. In Holy Communion, we are taking into ourselves the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord, just as he said in John 6. This is a mystery too big for us to understand, bigger than all of us. But the intention of our Christian walk is for us to be transformed into the image of Christ. WE HAVE TO CHANGE. We have to lay EVERY area of our lives down at the foot of our Lord, with nothing to spare. This is our Christian Faith, not just belief, but transformation.
I heard it said one time that we practice dying every day of our life. Every day we must look at our lives and ask our Lord what we must rid ourselves of that would bring us closer to him and change us more into His image. There will be one final day that we will die and this should be the ultimate form of sacrifice to us. That is the time that we will give to God everything we have...our very soul into his arms.
I don't believe that we have to make people WANT to come to church. We don't have to draw them in with programs or balloons, or coffee bars. The fact of the matter is we draw people in the way of St. Francis: "Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words". The rest is not up to us, as much as we would like it to be. Our Christian worship should ALWAYS be centered around what has redeemed us, the precious Sacrifice of Our Lord. This is what saves us! This is what unites us to God himself!
So as we move into the weekend, remember the point....remember what we are all about and to Whom we belong...it is not about feelings, it is about transformation.