It wasn't long ago that I was having a discussion with an individual that I was not well acquainted with. Talk turned to church and my going to Mass. This individual then scowled and said....."Oh you are one of those Christians." It did catch me a bit off guard and I said "Yes, and even worse....I am one of those Catholic Christians." It was an attempt at humor to lighten the moment but the individual truly found that to be even more distasteful than just being a Christian.
I really didn't think much more about this incident. Then the last two weeks on EWTN (the Catholic TV network) there was a two part movie on called Imperium: St. Peter. Saturday nights EWTN plays some extraordinary movies and this was one of them. The movie was about Peter, one of the twelve apostles of Christ, and it takes place from the time of Jesus death up to his own. St. Peter was played by Omar Sharif and I have to say, it was an amazing portrayal.
Peter and the other apostles and followers of Christ were living in treacherous times after the Crucifixion of Our Lord. Christians and the very thought of this "new" sect called Christianity caused great fear among all other beliefs.....even the Jews. It was a time when belief in God and now His Son could earn you death. Many times throughout the movie the words, "You are one of those Christians," was said and it brought me back to that day when I was called, one of those Christians. Two thousand plus years and Christians must still face ridicule for their beliefs. How sad Our Lord must be.
So what makes Christians such a target for the rest of the world? Likely the most important reason is our belief that Jesus was born, lived and died for us and our sins. The fact that we have faith in words given to us by an Omnipotent being and that we live our lives knowing that death is not the end of our journey but only the beginning. Truly, our faith in the unseen and untouched is enough to put a non-believer over the edge. If I am in the mood to push a point, my favorite saying is: "For those who believe, no explanation is necessary and for those who do not believe, no explanation is possible." This covers miracles, faith and the reasons Christians live as we do. We need no explanation. Our faith has us covered. This statement can send a non-believer of any persuasion into a diatribe of frustration because to them.....everything must have a reason and must be explained. Follow it up with "Everything does have a reason and purpose, we just may not be ready to know the reason and purpose," and this can completely unravel them. Why? Because for many outside Christianity, their beliefs are based in self and man. If man created everything and they are in charge of their own life and destiny then there must be an understandable reason for everything. To believe that God has the power and they don't is contrary to everything they choose to believe. And our belief as Christians infuriates them to the point of distraction.....just like it did in St. Peters time.
Some are turned off by Christians because of the proposed hypocrisy they see among Christians. Many Christians have been accused of being Christians on Sunday and something very different the other six days of the week. Also many Christians have been condemned for taking literal translations of the Bible and using them for their own agenda. Obviously much has changed since biblical times and how we treat women, adulterers and those that do wrong in society is much different than it was 2000 years ago. The fact is though, Christianity is a goal. It means to be Christ-like. It doesn't mean to be Christ. Christians are humans and works in progress. Perhaps there are those that are only Christ-like on Sunday's but that is them trying. Maybe there are those who put their own twist on the bible, but at least they are reading it. At least they are putting the effort in. Humans will always struggle because we are human and because we were blessed/cursed with free will. For some that free will has been their salvation, for others.....their free ride into hell. Perhaps though, those outside Christianity need to remember that Christians are just humans and as humans, we will fail many more times than we will succeed. But as Christians, we know our failings and we have complete faith that if we ask forgiveness from God for our failings with a sincere heart.....we will be forgiven.
I long ago brought my Christianity to the simplest of forms, as simple just works for me. I am not a biblical scholar and quite honestly if the bible hadn't been translated into newer more understandable language, I would be lost. I have brought the rules of my life down to....The Ten Commandments and The Golden Rule. The Ten Commandments because those were given directly from God to Moses and they are the basis of everything we do in life. I believe if you follow them, then you are following God's word to the tee. As for the Golden Rule, it is the very basis of everything Our Lord taught us. Love your fellow man.Treat others as you want to be treated. Be kind. It is all there.
Perhaps that is too simple, but it is what works for me. Truthfully though, this simplicity has gotten me in hot water from, believe it or not.......other Christians, as they don't feel that some current societal issues are explicitly covered in my simplistic view. I think if they look deeply though, they are. It is not my job to judge. It is my job to be as Christ-like as possible and Christ did not work on judgement. He worked on forgiveness. Those that society felt were an abomination, He forgave and brought them to Him. The best way for me to bring others to Our Lord is to teach by example. To live my Christianity through love, kindness and respect for my fellow man. The judgment, well I leave that to God.
So here it is. I am a flawed human who is not without sin. Christianity though, is a gift. In my way of thinking, if a man like Peter could be full of human failing, deny Christ not once but three times and still be forgiven, then there is hope for me. Peter was chosen by Christ and in the end was one of Our Lords staunchest supporters. In a day where Christianity was dangerous and carried a death sentence, Peter defied mans law, chose God's law and by doing this died as Our Lord did, through crucifixion. His life and death made him not only a martyr for Christ and all Christians everywhere, but it earned him the seat at the head of Christ's church and ultimately....sainthood.
Yes, I am proud to say.......I am one of those Christians!