Friday, April 21, 2017

Victimhood and the Christian Worldview by Teresa Beem



We are in a time when the most obvious observation is despised because it goes against this idea of being nice. Being nice and even good have become about not saying anything that corresponds with reality. And that is because reality makes people angry. So, nice people don't mention it. 

Well, I am going to mention it because I think reality is important. Reality itself isn't nice. Blame reality and not me! I figure Christians should be able to understand what I am about to write, but today, I am not so sure anymore.

A World of Victims

Everyone is a victim. Everyone feels victimized: men, women, racial minorities, old people, young people, transgendered people, Jews, Muslims, Christians, fat people, ugly people, short people, stupid people, poor people even rich people.

Oh poor, poor me! Oh poor, poor us!

And they are RIGHT! If you are feeling victimized, you are feeling reality correctly. Life isn't fair and life is filled to the brim with injustices. Everyone ought to feel exploited and used and abused because this corresponds with reality.


Whose to Blame?

Everyone clearly understands that injustices need to be righted, so they demand government to deal with it.
Men need to think above the waist.
The rich need to give more to the poor.
There are conspiracies against the regular Joe.
Enforce laws.
Make new laws.
More jails.
More education.
More tolerance.
Why can't we just all get along?

If every possible injustice had a law against it, that would not eradicate injustice. Laws cannot stop the problem, even if they can punish it.

Unfortunately we live in a society of such monumental irrational pride, so bent on self-destruction, we would rather tear each other apart with blame than actually admit the cause of injustice is right there in front of us and pretty much most civilizations in the last four thousand years knew or at least suspected it.

We are oppressed because we are guilty of disobedience to God.

Yeah, I know nobody wants to read that. I know some readers are saying, "You always want to blame everything on sin." Yes, that is true, because that is what God did. Sin makes us sinners who hurt each other.

God didn't die that we may have the best government system or to show us the correct political affiliation. Christ didn't suffer on the Cross that we could be wealthy and comfortable. He is not the Savior from being offended. His life and death were not to help us feel good about ourselves. He didn't die so we would be free to sin. He came to conquer the sin that brings about our death and misery and injustice and oppression and enslavement.

But I get it. 
If we admit that moral crime is causing suffering and injustice, that would make us all victims! And no one could feel much superiority in their oppression-hood. Wrongdoing, of course, is not equally distributed, so we are not equally abused, but make no mistake, sin brutalizes everyone.

No one wants to think about evil because they want the bad guy to be someone else—someone they can fight against. We all want to be the good guy! Of course, that is how we were created! It is wonderful to want to be the good guy and beat up the bad guy. It's just that because of disobedience to God, no matter how sincerely or ignorantly done, we have to re-learn how to be the good guy. It is not easy or as natural to us as we wish it to be.

I Don't Believe in Evil

Many of us who call ourselves Christian don't really believe in wickedness. That makes us feel uncomfortable and judgmental.

Why? Why do we all freak out (even Christians) when someone states the obvious?

Because no one wants to get rid of iniquity! Sin not only makes us the prey of evil, it makes us predators too. Transgressing God's law, being the source of injustice, means we sinners become not only the victims, but the bad guys who create the injustices.

We all believe and feel ourselves to be the good guys and it is a shock to our system—a shock to our reality—if we place the blame on injustice on ourselves. That means there is no guy in the black hat we can all corporately get rid of and injustice will vanish. We can't protest or strike against or boycott sin—unless we do it in our own life. 

The Empowerment of Righteousness

There is nothing we can do to stop the victimization of evil unless we personally stop doing evil things. If we wish true freedom so that nothing can victimize us anymore—we need to stop that which is enslaving us. And… that is sin. This power is right there for us no matter your gender, age, race, etc. God's mercy and grace is the ultimate heaven for those who wish to live in a non-biased, color-blind and just society.

Few can handle this truth—that most of the guilt of society comes from our personal decisions! While it is evident that the world suffers from others' transgressions, our deepest persecution is our own fault and derives from our own choices.

The Christian worldview of evil and oppression really is the nicest and most personally empowering because God promised that He would pull us from the depths of this horrible victimization and take our transgressions from us! Through His grace, Christ provided a way out of this enslavement. That is the good newsThat is the gospel.But no one today seems to want to hear that gospel because it means they would have to admit there was a problem with not just the world—but themselves—and admit the problem is wickedness and submit to the Great Shepherd for healing.

And for every holy man and woman, for each example of the saints who defy the law of sin through Christ's miraculous grace, a thousand injustices we can't control are defeated. Personal holiness effects much more than your own personal enslavement to sin, it shines the light so that others too may leave the prison of persecution.

And evil doesn't want that. It wants us humans to love our own oppression and blame others. Sin keeps us blind to our own faults but shines the light constantly on others. Evil is the master deflector, the master blamer, the master at dulling us to guilt, the master at tempting us to feel the enslavement it has us in, but to love our own choice to remain as a victim in our jail cell while screaming injustice at other prisoners from within it.

Christ opened the door for us. He gave us the solution to injustice. And the solution begins with each of us falling on our knees daily in repentance, having faith that His mercy is great. He wants to shower grace upon us so that we can no longer be victims, but walk as kings and queens in His eternal kingdom.

He wants us to rise from the deepest filth of victimhood and will freely give us the love, courage and strength to go and sin no more. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

What is the Catholic Mass

The other day, I mentioned to an Evangelical  that I was going to mass. Protestants often wonder why Catholics don't just say, "I am going to church." So this person asked me, "What is the difference is between church and mass?"

Ah, what a question. And now I get to pour out my love in an answer I hope and pray will be understandable. And an answer of love, often requires many words!
______________________________


Creation
Before the babbling gurgle of babies, before the laughter of children and the words of men, there was a deep and dark silent mystery.

Then suddenly, from the heart of God, burst forth a cosmos. Galaxies were thrown forth in an everlasting expanding spin, light exploded and in the wake of God's voice, trillions of stars were left against a black sky to mesmerize us each time we would look up to find God.  His love song radiated a divine offering of life. The universe echoed back His song as a beautiful symphony of love. And the oceans teamed with the first generation of babies. The sky grew heavy with thousands of species' first baby birds! The lion and lioness lay down with their cubs, and the cattle filled a thousand hills.

That is what love is! Love does not simply inspire creativity. Love's form is creation. As the sun does not simply produce radiation, it is radiation, as perfume does not create a scent, it is the scent. As flowers do not create beauty, they are beauty, so love does not simply create life, it is life. That's the nature and essence that God formed and called love. You cannot separate the life producing from love or it ceases to be love.

All acts of love create. The bliss of total self-gifting love is reproductive, in that it reproduces itself.


Destruction
Then the perfect symphony went silent. Adam sinned.
Sin stole from us the blessedness of life-giving sacrifice. Sin's nature is the very opposite of love. It is destruction. Satan's ultimate goal is to rip life from love, leaving it sterile and selfish.


Sin began a war.

Man chose to battle God. When Adam took the forbidden fruit, he placed himself at war with God. No matter his heart. No matter that he was deceived in the ultimate outcome. No matter how sincerely he repented and was sorry. Satan trapped man into a life of utter enslavement to self. 

Recreation
Two thousand years ago, the definitive battle of this still ongoing war was won by a Savior who totally surrendered His life for love. The Cross showed the raving madness of wickedness. Sin is hate so powerfully deceptive that given reign convinced the creation to murder its own Creator. But so much more, the Cross showed us the extent of Christ's love in a pure life-giving sacrifice. Christ offered us freedom from sin and death and He did it through the creative and jubilant sacrifice of love.


As excruciatingly painful as it was, it was a joyous gift offered that those who accepted it would be restored to their rightful position as His Sons and Daughters. And for those who choose to obey the King, they will reign forever with Christ.

Because we live in a world crowded and confused with sin, our understanding is clouded and we cannot clearly comprehend the Cross of Christ. For most humans, Calvary is indistinct, remote, and unreachable. 


So Christ gave the world His Church to bring back His love song and the music of life. He commissioned His people to bring the meaning of His sacrifice clearly focused into reality. We are to show the Cross through our actions to a dulled and desperate world. 

Catholics go to church for this purpose of re-creation. The word "mass" contains the entirety of the meaning of the Cross packed into it. The wording bursts forth with that life-giving memory of Calvary.

The mass is where we go to received the grace of Christ's Crucifixion that we may leave and be "little Christs" to the world. For that is how we got our name. The Roman pagans living in Antioch called us Christians, because they saw our living sacrifice and it reminded them of that criminal who died a cruel death because He believed in bringing us the love of His Father.

As true Sons and Daughters, we still should be doing that today. Bringing the living symphony of His creative life to the world! We pour ourselves out as He pours Himself in to us in mass. We become the living cup that overflows with His pure living water to satisfy the world's thirst. We become His broken bread to feed the hungry.

Not through just spoken or written words but through yielding up our freedoms and rights in the daily little things, often unnoticed by others.

By our gift of self-control when we are insulted or offended and desire to spit vengeful words and instead speak words of encouragement, we bring the Cross near.

When we have made plans to do something relaxing on our time off, and we see someone in need, we lovingly gift
 our much needed rest and act unselfishly to help—we bring the Cross near. 


When we have a right, a liberty we fought hard for, but for the sake of others, give that right up—we bring the Cross near.

When we give supernatural forgiveness to someone who has despicably wronged us—we bring the Cross near.


The mass gives us the grace to do the heroic even in the most mundane and irritating moments. His grace awakens in us the needs of those around us and urges us to give even when it is against our very fiber.

Dozens of moments during the day, we are faced with tiny choices of self-preservation or a painful sacrifices of what we want or need and we choose to take the hit out of love—we become Christ and bring the Cross more clearly to a confused and defeated world. Surrendering to God these precious tiny moments build and build until they form a tsunami of grace that floods the world.

And as we grow like Him as the decades go by, Christ is bringing us to His ultimate goal: that self-sacrifice becomes a exuberance and we are more able to pour out our life for others in an unending song. 


The Church is the building.
 

The mass is God's gift of His love that brings forth life in us, so we may then pour out our soul in charity, bringing the Cross near to everyone we encounter. The mass is His life. His love is creative through us.