My friend recently started this new ministry called Firelight in the Orange County area. It is a young adult ministry (ages 18-35) by young people for young people. It is absolutely amazing and his goal is to have bible studies, at home worship sessions, women’s and men’s nights, and so much other goodness. For now, he is starting with monthly praise and worship nights that are so beautiful and Holy Spirit inspired. While I could easily turn this into another post about the importance of surrounding yourself with a Christian community I actually wanted to write about something he said that night that really stuck with me.
… He said that, “the closer we get to the Lord, the more on fire we are with His love, the more we are repulsed by sin.” Shute dang. He further explained, “if you love someone you never want to hurt them and it is the same with God.” Our sinning hurts our eternal Father; it adds to His physical pain on the cross and it breaks His heart to see us choose sin over love. I feel like this isn’t really a concept we talk about a lot in the Catholic Church. It’s almost like we don’t want to make people feel too guilty or scare them away with a bunch of rules but as a result we’ve diluted the greatness our faith calls us too.My friend Andrew also said that the moral stakes are high in the Catholic Church. We are called to live by a morality that is a lot harder to live out than what the rest of the world says. We are called to forgive those who seem unforgivable. We are called to give completely of ourselves. We are called to wait for marriage to have sex and move in with a person. The moral standards are high because we are called to be saints! And what shook me Wednesday night was when he said that, “The moral standards of our Church may be high, but His mercy is so much higher.”
We are called to be Holy, just as our Heavenly Father is Holy but we are also human and our merciful Father is always going to welcome us with open arms. As Christians we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard and live a life that is different from that of mainstream culture. People need to look at you and see that there is something different about you. And it shouldn’t be that you are this strict, repressed, judgmental rule follower.
We should be so on fire for our Lord, we should be so in love with Him, and repulsed by sin that we just no longer want to sin. The rules are there in our faith for those moments when we don’t feel close or are far away from God. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this in yourselves but I’ve found that I know I’m struggling in my prayer life or faith when I feel tempted by the sins I struggled with before my “reversion.” I know I’m far away from God when I start judging others or I feel myself reluctant to get out of bed to go to mass.It’s not that we are above the church and don’t need rules anymore if we are closer to God, but the feeling of it being restricting or overbearing fades away. The closer I get to God the more it becomes habitual to live the life He is calling me to because sin is no longer an option in my brain. Now obviously I sin Every. Single. Day. but at the same time I’m striving to grow closer to God and I notice a difference in my heart and in my soul when I’m near Him.
That is how we are going to evangelize the world. Our lives of freedom should speak volumes to people. If we are overflowing with the joy and love of our Father it will be irresistible and as you talk to people about Jesus they may not agree with the rules or moral teachings but if you keep loving them and bringing them closer to God then they will start to make the change within themselves without even realizing it.
Trust me – that’s how Jesus got me.