Changing the World One Step at a Time

We know he means well but we were just concerned about how good of a Christian he is anymore.

Conversations like this one have rested on my ears my whole life and it’s been easy to find comfortability in them.

How good of a Christian are you?” isn’t overtly thrown around, like a competition, but we see it in our churches and communities at home.

We can see it in the whispers of old men and women at church but most specifically we see it in “who’s who” at service.

We see the “crème de la crème” on Sundays: the Catholic family who take up the whole pew, the happily married couple of 40-odd years together, the faithful — sometimes gossipy — women.

These church “standards” that we may be able to relate to are both a comfort and unsettling reality.

These “church staples” give us security in our churches most of the time — but definitely not all of the time.

A bittersweet reality is that typically the churches we attend reflect our own identity.

For example, my own parish that I attend is mostly white and mostly middle-class.

Being a Christian isn’t an easy calling, but we’ve been called to a specific mission as the Catholic Church.

Matthew 25:35 says, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”

Feeding someone is more than giving them a plate, hydrating someone takes a lot more than water and inviting someone in can take a lot more attention and effort than opening the physical doors.

Does your church have a shelter? Does your church work on feeding the poor? And not just giving them sustenance — which is vitally important — but feeding their souls with love and genuine attention.

Do our churches evangelize? Do they reach out to the youth? Do the people that our churches serve feel comfortable enough to attend service?

While these questions come across as antagonistic I hope you can see that it’s not the purpose.

If you are under the impression that being a Christian is easy, someone lied to you.

In Matthew’s gospel, Matthew 21:12, Jesus flipped over tables in the temple and drove out people who were turning the temple into a business space.

I like to interpret this passage outside its literal meaning and say that Jesus was forcing them out not simply because they were selling in the temple but because they ignored the purpose of temple, or for our terms church.

Would Jesus be in our churches knocking down tables? Probably not. But he certainly would be breaking down the doors.

The church was not intended to be a place of comfortability. The church, based on the teachings of Jesus, calls us to action, not to conformity.

Why else would large portions of scripture be focused on caring for the poor, defending the oppressed and — even more relatable for us — caring for each other?

Life is busy, whether you work here or you take classes here, and there are so many reasons that we wear thin.

But as the prophet Isaiah writes, “‘Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.’” (Isaiah 55:1)

We can draw from the everlasting spring that God has in store for us whenever we need it but we cannot give up, even when we are tired.

Being a Christian is harder than we could have imagined, but it is worth it.

We have to work at opening the doors to our churches, we have to be the reason they come – inviting them in – and we have to be the solution to the problem.

Ask yourself, “Who would Jesus bring to church?”

 

JARED SCHAAF

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