Friday, January 1, 2010

Old and New Faith

As I enter the New Year, I can't help but reflect upon the past and be hopeful about the future. Lately, my refection has been upon my experience with church. I have thought long and hard about my decision to leave the realm of Protestant life. My humanity questions this decision. Although my family is supportive of my faith, I did severe something when I left my childhood church- the church that raised four generations of God-fearing Protestants, and followed Christ to the Catholic faith. Being that I am right smack in the middle of the Bible belt, I am also surrounded by my Protestant friends who find my path confusing if not troubling. In my weaker moments, when I let my humanity overpower my spirit, I find myself in a lonely place.

I'm not lonely because I left the Protestant faith. I'm sad because my Protestant family and friends do not experience Christ like I do. Because I am a convert, I have done a lot of justifying of my Catholic faith. One reason I believe Christ is in the Eucharist is through John chapter 6. There are many references to the Eucharist throughout the Old Testament and St. Paul also writes about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist in his many letters. I believe in the authority of the Catholic Church because it was established by Jesus and has endured for 2000 years. I believe in the intersession of Angels and Saints- especially Mary because in his dying breath, Jesus established her as our Mother. She is a beautiful window to Christ. For me, the Catholic faith is a complete package.

But, here is my problem. In all of my justifying, I have become closed minded to other Christian faiths. I have drawn clear boundaries between what is right about the Catholic faith and wrong about other Christian faiths in order to justify my path. In doing so, I have built a wall. I have drawn a line in the sand. I have forced others to choose a side or not play the game. Obviously, this isn't a step towards unity. Christ wants us all to be united under one church. My wall building is not a positive step toward that goal.

I want so much for my Protestant friends to see and experience Christ like I experience Him. I want them to be in a church where scripture makes sense because church doctors and apologetics have been interpreting them for 2000 years. I want them to be in a church where heaven kisses earth every time we gather around the Lord's Table. I want them to experience a mass where the focus isn't on the human delivering the message but the divine coming to humanity. But my wants have built this wall. My past experiences have clouded my ability to reach out to them. My human justification has not allowed Christ to work through me. And although I have worthy desires for my Protestant friends, my humanity is driving them away from the Church.

So, once again, my humanity is getting in the way. I must die to my desires in order to let Christ work in me. I must set aside my justification and allow Christ to use my passion. I have my reasons for embracing the Catholic faith, but I cannot make the people around me share those same reasons. They have to find their own path in order for Christ to light that fire in their hearts. My role is set aside my justification and share the joy Christ has placed in my being. I must let go of the old and embrace the hope in the new.


debily said...

Just because I don't share all your beliefs doesn't mean I don't experience the fullness of Christ as you do. :-) I have wept with him in the Garden of Gethsemane. I have sat in His lap and laughed and cried with Him. I have heard Him whisper in my ear, and have felt His smile and pleasure.

I saw the beauty of the diversity of our faith in Uganda. There is joy and beauty in the differing expressions of what we believe.

The Miller Family said...

Debbi- Your fire is so obviously lit. I find your joy and witness quite inspirational. I know that you have experienced Jesus in ways I have not just as I have experienced Him in ways you have not. He meets us where we are and gives us what we need which leads to the diversity we share. The common thread in that diversity is His Love which we both can't help but share with each other and with the world.

This struggle I have to share my faith does not lead to christian unity and that is my challenge to reconcile. I envy that you obviously have reconciled what I am still struggling with.

Catholic evangelism is difficult for me. I can defend my faith, but sharing it with others with out creating angst is challenging. I'm sure it has a lot to do with my past experiences. So, as I stated at the end, I need to let go and let God use me as He sees fit rather than burn people with the fire he has placed in my heart.

The Eucharist has been such a powerful and wonderful thing in my life. I can't help but hope that one day all Christians will stand around the Lord's Table and be united in the Eucharist. I'm sure you feel the same way about similar experiences you have had in your faith.

Your comment helps me to think deeper about my issue. Thanks for posting!