During the past month the newspapers have been filled with the story of Bishop Tobin of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island and Congressman Patrick Kennedy. Congressman Kennedy and Bishop Tobin have been exchanging comments on what it means to be a Roman Catholic. I hold, as Bishop Tobin does, that is you say you are something then you need to abide by all of the teachings of that particular confession.
Being a Christian is about surrender. We need to surrender our will to the other and that other is God. We no longer live for our will but for the will of the Father who created us. In essence we give up our own thoughts for those of God.
When Jesus is praying in the Garden before his arrest, he is praying that is possible let this cup pass from Him. Jesus is in His most human at this point. He knows what awaits Him and he is, for all purposes, scared. He asks to be spared from the fate that awaits Him. But in the end he surrenders to the will of the Father and we know the rest of the story.
I think Americans have a much harder time with this then perhaps Christians in other place have. We American, with all of our freedoms, do not like anyone telling us what to do. We like to have our own thoughts and our own opinions. But the Church is not America and although we have free will, we freely choose to belong to a Church and with Church membership come certain responsibilities.
Being a Christian is not easy. It is not meant to be easy. Being a Christian means to be other to not be the same as everyone else, yes it means to be different.
I believe that Christianity is black and white it is not gray at all. The Church has absolute positions on issues that should not be violated. The Church is slow to change and very deliberate when she does change and that is for a reason. The Church does not decide her theology by a series of public opinion polls and she does not change her mind with this wind or that wind. Churches that that are changing with the tide are going the way of the dodo.
I believe that another problem we face in most churches is that the ministers, and I will put myself in that position, have stopped preaching the radical Gospel for a more watered down version of the Gospel. We preach the Gospel of not offending anyone rather then the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to preach the truth, not our version of the truth, but the truth. We need to teach our people what the Church teaches. Not form the medieval sense of the Churches teaches this obey or else, but we need to teach why the Church believes this or that. This is not easy, and it is not always popular but again we have to preach the truth.
If you preach are you preaching the truth of Jesus Christ Crucified? Are you preaching what your Church teaches? (I write that last point as I have many readers who are not Orthodox) If you are a parishioner, do you know what your Church teaches on certain issues? Do you spend time reading Scripture and asking questions about what the Church teaches? When voting for candidates how much of your religious belief colors your choice?
These are not easy questions, but they are questions that deserve some thought and discussion. So discuss away. Comments are always welcome.