Wednesday, September 09, 2009


New Life in Christ

It has been my distinct honor recently to make the acquaintance of Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver. I sought him out after reading this wonderful article at First Things:
The Catholic faith is not simply a collection of doctrines and ideas, or a body of knowledge, or even a system of beliefs, although all those things are important. At its root, Christianity is an experience: a life-changing, personal experience of the risen Jesus Christ. Everything else in the writings of St. Paul, and everything else in our life as Catholics, flows from that personal encounter with Jesus Christ. If we truly seek him, then we will always find him. But when we find him, we need to be ready for the consequences, because nothing about our lives can be the same.
That's how it starts! That's good stuff! It's stuff like that that made me seek the guy out. Here's another taste:
Here's a second point: Jesus didn’t come down from heaven to tell us to go to church on Sunday. He didn’t die on the cross and rise from the dead so that we’d pray more at home and be a little kinder to our next-door neighbors. The one thing even non-believers can see is that the Gospels aren’t compromise documents. Jesus wants all of us. And not just on Sundays. He wants us to love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength, and all our mind. He wants us to love our neighbor as ourselves. In other words, with a love that’s total.

We need to take Christ at his word. We need to love him like our lives depend on it. Right now. And without excuses. Remember the man in Scripture who told Jesus: I’m ready to be your disciple, but first I need to plan my father’s funeral? The way Jesus responds is very blunt and rather disturbing: “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. Follow me and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Of course, he’s not commanding us to show disrespect for our parents. What Jesus is saying is that there can be no more urgent priority in our lives than following him and proclaiming his kingdom.
You really need to read the rest of the piece. What is amazing to me is that the pull quotes I just cited could have been written by any influential Evangelical preacher. Yet, coming from this Roman Catholic Archbishop they seem far more impactful. Yes, the piece is full of Roman Catholic imagery and understanding, but the heart of it is so fundamentally and ultimately Christian that I cannot understand people that think Catholicism is somehow not Christian.

I mean the guy is just flat out right when he says, "Being a follower of Jesus Christ is not just one among many different aspects of your daily life. Being a Christian is who you are. Period. And being a Christian means your life has a mission. It means striving every day to be a better follower, to become more like Jesus in your thoughts and actions." That is, simply, gospel.

What makes me so sad is that there are so many out there that believe the same thing, but will reject it from this man simply because he is Roman Catholic. How much does such an attitude limit the gospel we choose to spread.

Think of it this way. If you are a peanut farmer, you want to sell peanut butter. If you work for General Mills, you want to sell Jiffy peanut butter. Yes, Jiffy is different than Peter Pan, but they both use the same amount of peanuts to make the stuff, so from the farmer's perspective either will do.

So here is what I cannot help but wonder when we get all "my church is right your is wrong" - Are we peanut farmers or brand marketers? I think God called us to peanut farming.

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