Friday, December 22, 2023

What I need. . .

No one needs a church to tell us when we are right.  We think we are right most of the time.  We do not need a faint echo of our self-centered presumption to tell us that we are correct.  In the same way, we do not need a church to tell us when we are wrong and we know it.  We do not need a church to pile on our brokenness and make us feel even worse when we are caught up in error and know it.  We need a church to tell us we are wrong when we think we are right.

The age in which we live does not much tolerate anyone who points out wrong.  We have a truth that is one person wide and one moment deep.  We have preference and desire that ends up shaping everything and judging everything until there is little that is true for all people or all times.  We have a standard of judgment which is based not upon fact or anything objective or outside the realm of the person but dependent upon the individual, their desires, and their experience for everything.  We have a world in which the only thing we hear is the echo of our own voices confirming us in our chosen truth and affirming us in all our choices.  The world around us may not much like a church that tells us when we are wrong but without this voice we are left to the lies that condemn and deprived of the truth that saves.

Our lives as the faithful need to hear the objective truth that we do not want to hear or we will only be confirmed in our error and left to the ravages of lies and deception.  The great danger we face is not simply of a church that is silent when she should and must speak but a people who gladly choose the comfortable error for the hard truth every day of the week.  It is for this reason that we need to belong to a church that is not a good fit for us but one faithful to the Word of the Lord and bold enough to speak that Word when no one wants to hear it.

Some of those errors are ismsDocetism (1st century), Montanism, Ebionites (Adoptionism), Valentinianism, Sabellianism, Marcionism, Patripassianism (2nd century), Novatianism (3rd century), Arianism, Donatism, Monophysitism, Apollinarism (4th century), Nestorianism, Pelagianism, Eutychianism, (5th century), Iconoclasm, and Monothelitism (7th century), etc.  Some of them are not even big enough to be an ism and are only the self-referencing lies we tell ourselves when we do not want to face the truth.  Though it might seem like heresies are always new, the reality is that we recycle the old lies over and over again, under new names and with slightly different emphases.  We want and need an infallible witness to be our guide and our foundation.  That witness is Scripture.  The reason why Scripture is not enough to silence all doubts, fears, and false teachings is because our sinful hearts resonate by instinct to the sound of those self-chosen lies and we must daily learn anew the wisdom from on high which God addresses us through the voice of His Word.  We need a living tradition of the faith and the faithful to attest to the unchanging message of God's Word and to apply it to the challenges and issues of our own day.

Your truth or my truth matters not.  God's truth matters.  This is not because we do not matter to God but precisely because we matter to Him.  It is out of His great love for us that He has provided us the Scriptures to be our anchor in the storm, our light to show the way, and our truth amid error.  It is out of His great love for us that He does not leave us in the prison of our feelings, wants, desires, preferences, or choices but delivers to us the saving Gospel yesterday, today, and forever the same.  We need to hear this when we are lost in error, at the dead ends of this mortal life, caught up in despair before death, left anxious by the uncertainties of this mortal life, and wearied by the struggle.  I don't need a church to pat me on the back.  I need a church which will reach out with the lifeline of God's Word to pull me from error, find me when I am lost, and restore me when I have fallen.  Don't go to a church that makes you feel special or important or good.  Go to the one that will speak God's Word to you when you don't want to hear it.  Go to the one that attests to the unchanging Word and confesses the catholic faith over the trends and fads of the moment.  You will not regret it.

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