We all change eventually. I used to wear Vans and had bangs. I ate carbs, slept till noon on Saturdays, and collected things. I lived for years in a constant search of being relevant and cool. But I grew up, threw out those old notions of coolness and relevance, grew out my bangs and started collecting experiences.
I also used to be a practicing Catholic.
The Catholic church is somewhat like a person who wants to be cool and accepted by those around her. Back in the day, it was effortless being a Catholic. You go to church, learn a few things, live an average comfortable life, and don’t make waves. The goal was to be “involved” some, but not a saint. No. Never a saint.
But the fact is, the Catholic church isn’t relevant or cool, and that is a good thing — both for the church and for the culture that surrounds us. Being cool is nothing more than a phenomenon that really doesn’t define who we are, what we care about or how we live our lives.
In my opinion, believing in Jesus should NEVER be cool.
Being a Christian (or a practicing Catholic) should be radically different. The problem is, not enough modern-day Catholics live radical enough lives. It’s as if we have allowed the culture to affect us more than we affect it. No doubt the church has been absorbed by the secular culture of our country.
Growing up, there was this general belief that the nation was a “Christian” nation. This idea was deceiving, at best. We had many “cultural Christians” and “cultural Catholics,” but far too few Christians lived a radical life. For the most part, they went through the motions — on Sunday mornings.
The 10 Commandments are a marker that should influence.
Agree? They should be revered as the prescription for a healthy and moral society. Instead, we allow Christianity to take on other labels: political, social or partisan labels.
The first commandment says, “I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have any strange gods before Me.” This commandment forbids glorifying false Gods, yet we do. And what’s worse is that these false Gods no longer take the form of golden calves and wooden images. They’ve taken the form of Hollywood celebrity and pro-athlete.
Celebrities and athletes are setting our standard for beauty, fashion, culture. We give them God-like stature. What are we doing? We’re not worshipping them for how they help humanity. We’re worshipping glamour.
I read the other nine commandments today. Our society disobeys and violates divine law on the regular. Our morality is colored. The commandments have been replaced with rhetoric and spin.
“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”
“Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.”
“Honor thy father and mother.”
“Thou shalt not kill.”
“Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
“Thou shalt not steal.”
“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”
“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.”
“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.”
The honest truth is, we need to return to our evangelical roots.
The church knows this. Can you imagine if Christians were to rise up and begin to really live out the Lord’s word, serve the poor, forgive others, not judge, love as He loved us, welcome the stranger, etc.? Christians would actually be transformative agents in the world!
We say we love our neighbors but don’t know our literal neighbors enough to talk about faith.
We say we believe in salvation and grace but never care sufficient to evangelize others.
We talk about community but fail to reach out to form strong friendships of meaning.
We make sex a big issue but fail to live out the commands of Jesus about sexuality.
Following Jesus isn’t about you or me. It is about those around us. I’m embarrassed it took me so long to figure this out.
When we live lives that reflect love, character, honesty, mercy, and courage, we can’t help but look like strangers and freaks to modern culture… culture that longs for truth, beauty and goodness but doesn’t know where to find it. This is a good thing. But, we will also be attractive to the individuals searching for something more. This is what we need to aim for — being interesting, curious and appealing to those who want more out of life. This is why we should rejoice at not being relevant. It is an opportunity to live as we ought to.
Of course we can’t hold others to a standard we aren’t willing to live out ourselves…
And this could be why life is such a mess.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” -John 13: 34-35