29 December 2018

Are Catholics and Christians Better Than Everyone Else?

As someone once said, 'The Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints'.

Mr Holdsworth's  introduction:

I’m willing to bet that for most people that fall away from Christianity, it’s because they’ve become fed up with the behaviour of other Christians. If you’ve ever felt that way or been tempted to feel that way or just had a tough time reconciling the dysfunction you perceive in your fellow Christians, then that’s what I want to discuss in this video! I get that it’s not nice to judge and compare people or think of yourself or your group as being better than others, but Christian’s believe that Jesus is our lifeline to God and that through that relationship, God will help us to become more like him who is the source moral goodness. If that’s the case, if Christians can enjoy this intimate connection with God and that as they do so, his goodness will rub off on us (we call it his Grace), then shouldn’t we expect Christians to be, generally, more morally upright than people who are not Christians? As awkward as that question is, it seems like a necessary conclusion if we’re being honest with ourselves. And in the interest of being honest with ourselves, if we take a hard look at the evidence, what do we find? A good example that keeps rearing its head, for me as a Catholic, is the sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church. This is something that has rocked a lot of people’s faith and confirmed some of the worst suspicions of those who were already skeptical or hostile towards the Church. If you were to try to defend the Church’s integrity, a really easy fact to point out is that the rate of abuse is no higher among Catholic clergy than it is in other spheres of influence, like in education, sports, or other faith communities. But the rebuttal that you should be prepared for is something like, “If the Catholic clergy are supposed to live holy lives, set apart in the service of God, shouldn’t the rate be lower than in society in general?” And that’s a good point. And the fact that it’s not should be an opportunity for some self reflection for us Catholics. So, again, if Christians are actually following the true God who is the source of life, then the effects of that should be obvious. You should be able to tell by looking at our lives, that we are tapped into a source of goodness that others are missing. Now, don’t get me wrong. If you spend enough time in the Church, you will meet some people who are incredibly holy. But you’ll still encounter people who will slander, who brag a lot, who are greedy and selfish. You’ll meet some who will be the last people to want to help someone that needs it. Thinking about this has given me good reason to also reflect on myself and how I measure up as a Christian. One thing I know for sure, is that that lifeline of grace that I described earlier, has been an indispensable source of stability and help in my life. I know the kind of person I was and the direction, or lack of direction, I was headed in life before my conversion. If I’m really honest with myself, I have to admit, that without grace, I would be, frankly, screwed. Without Grace, I’m a loser… and I’m deeply aware of that fact. So when I make the comparison in that sense, comparing the person I am without faith and grace to the person I am with faith and grace, there’s an obvious disparity. When you consider the stories in the Bible, the kind of people that really responded to Jesus’ invitation were the losers. They were the sinners, the outcasts, and the nobodies. The people that had it all together, or at least looked like they did, were the ones that were hostile towards him. And those same people even commented about the kind of company that Jesus kept and his response was that a healthy person has no need of a physician. What is amazing about Christianity is that this same group of dysfunctional outcasts, somehow, inexplicably revolutionized the world with their message. They started the largest movement ever known to mankind and they did it while having to endure the genocidal hostility of the greatest empire the world has ever known, the Roman Empire. That, for me, is the trademark of Christianity. The losers, the nobodies, and the outcasts, experience something that enables them to play a role in the world that without that ongoing encounter with God, they would still just be the same outcasts they were before. To be a Christian is, for probably most of us, an experience of being transformed from a dysfunctional loser, into a functional human being. So to answer the question posed by this video, generally, I’d say that no, Christians are not better than everyone else. For a lot of us, it’s a miracle that we are even able to be compared to everyone else.

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