Let’s face it. This journey can sometimes feel lonely.
The Christian journey, I mean.
As Catholics we’re told that if we will walk with God, obey His Word and Commandments, and follow the direction and leading of the Holy Spirit, we will enjoy the close relationship with Him that we desire.
But it definitely isn’t always easy. Especially when you’re living in a world that is well, “worldly”.
This is the world where Christian virtue is quickly becoming the minority and the most important “values” are inclusive acceptance and not offending others.
This is a world where old time-honored principles and traditions are often mocked and made fun of.
I can’t say how many times I have received odd looks, or even glares when I have (quietly and to myself) said grace before eating meals in the presence of strangers.
I even have a friend who told me that he was once accused of saying grace just for show, as a way to make others think he’s better than those around him. Really?
During Lent when I am fasting, it has been insinuated to me that I am of being too “legalistic”, or too strict with myself — that I should perhaps “lighten up” a bit.
Sure, it’s annoying, but that’s just small stuff.
Recently a news journalist called out Vice President Mike Pence, saying that he must have a “mental illness” because he listens to Jesus. The journalist was quoted as saying, “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you… that’s called mental illness.”
And whether it was a joke or not, it’s these types of perceptions that are growing about Christians, and a belief and love for God.
Since December I’ve mostly lost interest in reading or posting to my personal Facebook account because it is full of anti-Christian and anti-God news articles and comments. What used to be a place to catch up with friends and family has in large part become a place of negativity.
In the past I have read comments about how some people are annoyed and some times even angry because others have offered their prayers in times of hardship or tragedy. I have read comments from people saying that prayers are worthless or even insulting.
And my question is – where does it stop? And will it?
Will people be bullied into completely hiding their faith out of fear of offending or angering others?
Will people often be forced into accepting things that we know to be wrong because our shifting world tells us we should think otherwise?
Will human respect be chosen over the Christian virtue?
In times like these, perhaps it is more important than ever that we hold strong to our faith.
To cherish the journey that comes with our faith.
And to never back down from it.
And you only need one reason to never give up or compromise your faith – Christ gave it all for you.
It all comes back to the cross. Christ gave all that He had for us. He denied Himself and became man to save us. And with His crucifixion Christ did not hesitate to go all the way, despite the immense pain and suffering.
And why? Solely for our salvation. He would have done it for even just one of us if He had to.
The Bible tells us that He will finish the good work that He started in you. (Philippians 1:6)
You might fail again and again, and at times you might even think that you have no hope, but you’re wrong if you think that Christ will just give up on you because you’re not perfect.
Yes, you’re not perfect, but He will not stop. And He will walk with you on the journey. Right beside you.
Christ is the author and finisher of our faith. It began in Him, continues in and through Him, and will be brought to completion by Him. Don’t give up … because He won’t give up. (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5).
So, if Christ will never give up on us, how can we ever give up on Him?
And giving up on Him doesn’t only mean denouncing your faith. Giving up on Him is also simply compromising what we know to be true. What scripture, faith and tradition have told us to be true.
We humans often have a sad tendency to take good things and distort them. Consider human respect, for example. God’s good plan for us has always been for us to honor, value and respect one another. In our fallen world, though, where every virtue gets distorted into a corresponding vice, too often we twist that into pursuing others’ respect, and putting their opinions ahead of our reverence for God and our duties toward Him.
Frequently this pursuit shows up in the form of fear: fear of not fitting in, or of being criticized for thinking or acting differently from other people, especially when it comes to practicing our faith. It’s a matter of fearing man more than God; being more concerned with what other people think of us, than what God thinks and expects of us. This unholy fear often causes us to make bad decisions to avoid upsetting others, or being looked down upon by them.
Ultimately — we care too much about what others might think of us.
And when you live in a world where everything must be accepted, you may one day find yourself suddenly standing for nothing. Because it’s very difficult to make a stance about anything, when “everything goes”.
If you know that your faith in God and your corresponding beliefs and actions are real and sincere, then you never have to worry about offending others.
To put it simply, it’s their issue, not yours. Stop worrying about what other people think about you. Whatever story they’ve made up about you is not your true story.
And no matter what, stand your ground in the One Person where hope will always be found.
Because no matter what you face, this we know in time – He will take all that is wrong and make it right.
Guard and cherish your faith always. And remember that one of the best ways to make sure you never lose your faith…is to share it with others.
This is your journey.