I feel like these posts are kind of random as far as order goes. Mostly because I’m thinking about different things on different days, and, though the entry topics may seem random, writing it all down is part of the way I think linearly.
Today I’m thinking about justice and living comfortably.
Obviously, when I started getting emails and seeing my views go from “zero” to “not zero” on this site, I know that some of the family are starting to follow me on this journey. (Hey, guys) :). But one of the most difficult things for me emotionally as I’m going through this is the fact that I haven’t told any of my close friends yet. I know I have to, and I will, but I don’t know when, or how… I’m concerned for people to feel hurt, for them to feel like I’m saying they are totally wrong, which I’m not. I don’t know who will ask a lot of questions and who will just accept it. I don’t know how to answer all the questions they might have. I’m thinking there will be a lot of in-person conversations so we don’t just abruptly disappear from church life. And some of those conversations might not be easy. Which is okay. They are good friends. But our Christianity is really important to all of us, so it will come as a surprise if I do become Catholic at the end of this.
Onward. I’m not suggesting that the members of the Catholic Church is immune to apathy, but I do believe it is fact that the Catholic Church is the largest charitable organization in the world. And I also know that you can go to some Protestant churches and even attend there for a while without knowing what they are doing to reach the lost on a local and/or global scale. Not all. Some. But it’s still concerning.
Social justice is my heart. Freeing the captives, and all that. I have some small ministries that are a big part of my life right now that I am so compelled to be a part of. I know I’m nothing special on my own, but I also know that God has asked me to be obedient in some things that aren’t super comfortable to do… so I go.
I was once told by an acquaintance that she knew I “was really into social justice” like it was a phase that would pass. I’ve also been told to “be careful about having a works mentality” and that I “can’t do everything.” I felt like it made some people uncomfortable for me to suggest that having our faith in Jesus meant we were obligated to feed hungry tummies, clothe those who are naked, minister to those at the bottom of society, etc. There is a heart for a relationship with God, but a lack of focus on the implications of that relationship on how you live your life towards those in need.
I feel the need to defend that this isn’t everyone. And that similar outlooks probably exists on both sides of the Reformation. But I’ve often felt like I have been rocking the boat a bit for a while now in some situations, and I am concerned that American Christianity leans this way more often than it should.
Which brings me to Pope Francis. As I went through my phase of seeking out the truth in Christianity (which I talk more about in my About Me page,) and was getting so frustrated with the inward nature of how Christianity is lived out in America… like this idea that my faith is supposed to serve me and meet my needs somehow as a primary focus, I notice the Catholic Pope.
And there Pope Francis is … saying stuff like this and living a life to back it up:
“None of us can think we are exempt from concerns for the poor and for social justice.” -Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, 2013, Ch.4, #201
I think if you asked 1,000 American Christians what the biggest thing they struggle with is, you might get a decent amount that share they like being comfortable. I am just not sure that Christianity and comfort mix well. And if that is our struggle as Christians in this country, I hope it lights a fire under us to do something about it and make a change.
I like the Church’s global emphasis on charity, and the accountability it puts on its members to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world through good works. I also like that so much of what the Church requires of its members is uncomfortable.
The whole idea of Christianity, and perhaps more thoroughly articulated in Catholicism is that you conform your life to God’s will, and make your own self smaller, while Christ becomes larger. It is uncomfortable to deny our selfish desires and do things that make God the main focus. Because of sin, we don’t tend there.
For example, it’s uncomfortable, probably, to say your sins out loud during confession… etc… but it’s also, probably, so very good for you.
Side note- I also love all these practices of the Church because in Protestantism you can go to church on Sunday, and sometimes have a small group Bible Study during the week. Other than that, you’re pretty much on your own to find fellowship during the week or have your own personal devotion time, which, by the way, I’ve never been good at in my adulthood. Especially lately. I pray more often than I read the Bible in a personal devotion, mostly because of my growing nervousness to read such a deeply theological book and attempt to accurately get at the intended meaning of the text without some sort of trustworthy guidance. And I’ve been struggling to find Protestant authors who I feel comfortable with as far as theology is concerned (Except C.S. Lewis, love me some C.S. Lewis), and just kind of stopped looking. I was going to read some G.K. Chesterton before this whole thing started, and then recently found out he became Catholic later in life! Fascinating. I’ll get to him.
So, other than reading the Bible on my own, I have had few “official” or “suggested” practices of the faith to help support my growth in Christianity. If I become Catholic, I could go to Mass every day if I wanted to. I have 2 kids so that isn’t likely, but it’s there. Every day. There is Eucharistic Adoration, and a whole bunch of other ways that the faith is practiced throughout the week and on Sundays with the richness of the Mass. The structure of it all is very appealing to me.
To sum up, I guess I would say: I’m nervous to talk to my friends about this, and that is difficult for me. The fact that some family members are reading at least part of this journey as I go through it is nice. It’s nice to have encouragement. I would also say, Pope Francis drew me closer to the Church as I was growing in frustration at the inward nature of the Christian church in America. And, lastly, I hope to live a life of obedience, not comfort, and I think that the best place for me to do that could possibly be the Catholic church.