Opinions on an email I received


#1

I was forwarded the following email… I have my opinions about it, but I want to see what you think about it.

Dear Family,

This past Sunday, I preached about Jesus. That’s hardly news, is it? After all ministers are supposed to do that. But I’d like to share with you some of the things still rattling about in my brain and in my heart. One thing about Jesus, I’ve discovered, is that once you spend time with him he tends to stick around. When I was a child, Jesus showed up at Christmas and at Easter, but not much otherwise. To the extent that I thought about matters religious, something that I did less and less from my teens into my early twenties, I thought about God: Did God exist at all? Did it make any sense to pray? If I believed in God (and I more or less did) then why was life so complicated and, often, so unhappy? When, after being diverted from a path that was supposed to lead to law school, I found myself in seminary, I discovered that I really enjoyed studying the Bible, and all the things that people have said and thought about the Bible across the centuries. Jesus kept showing up, of course. It’s hard to study the New Testament without running into him.

But he was a figure to be studied along with Paul, and Moses, and King David and all the rest of the people who populate the Bible. And, later on, I led or encouraged all sorts of discussion groups about Jesus in the churches I’ve served. The people who talked a lot about Jesus, not as a subject for conversation but as someone known with certainty, were people whom I had a hard time feeling comfortable with. They seemed so utterly certain that they knew all about Jesus, and that no one else really did – and that that made them superior. They claimed humility, to be sure: but whatever role Jesus was playing in their lives led almost invariably to a smugness about themselves and the world, which I found very difficult to deal with.

Maturity means, at least in part, that other people don’t have to do your thinking for you. Little by little, I began to understand that what I believed about God, what kind of a God I believed God to be, were things which I knew through the life and the death of Jesus. It may sound paradoxical to say so, but I experienced a gradual surprise. I discovered, among other things, that as Jesus moved closer to the center of my faith, I didn’t turn into anyone else. I was still me. What changed was that I began to understand where my core beliefs were coming from. God’s unconditional love, for instance. The growing assurance that we don’t suddenly become pieces of dead meat at the end of life. The growing awareness that Jesus was not simply a sage among other sages, but someone present in all manner of interactions with other people.

I began to discover that my sense of the Christian faith kept expanding, and I understood for the first time what St. Paul meant when we wrote about “Jesus Christ alive in me”. The growing, the expanding, was going on whether or not I was paying any attention to it.

Many of us tend to be wary of Jesus. We’re afraid that, given the chance, he’ll turn us into people we’re really not, nor choose to be. We can’t imagine dealing with, and possibly coming to believe in, his miracles, or his resurrection, or his call to the difficult works of justice and of love. I have no simple answer to this wariness. I have known it intimately most of my life. But what I have at last come to understand is that, wary or not, certain or not, we’re safe. Believing in Jesus means becoming more and more who we most truly are. And to discover that it is not just about us. Becoming who we most truly are means in the end who we most truly are for others.

As I say, once you begin spending time with Jesus, he tends to stick around. And things happen.

Faithfully,

Peter


#2

Who is this person and why did he send this rather mild meditation to you? I don’t understand the context, here. :confused:


#3

It was just sent to all the families that attend a particular church. Someone who received it sent it to me. It was a general comment to a bunch of people with no real context of any sort. It’s just meant to be “good advice” I guess.


#4

[quote=Lazerlike42]It was just sent to all the families that attend a particular church. Someone who received it sent it to me. It was a general comment to a bunch of people with no real context of any sort. It’s just meant to be “good advice” I guess.
[/quote]

Looks like a personal testimony on how his mind and heart evolved with regards to Jesus. At first, Jesus was just a name to this man; just one of many historical figures.

Though I sensed no specific or defining* “turning point,” *it just sounds as though the more his thoughts dwelled on Jesus, the more he began to understand who Jesus IS… and a change took place in his heart where he finally understood what it meant to have Jesus residing within his heart.

It didn’t seem like he was trying to get anybody to think the way this man now thinks about Jesus, rather it was his way of showing others how the significance of who Jesus is slowly permeated his thinking and feeling. That’s just my take on the letter, of course. :smiley:


#5

It doesn’t sound as though he is trying to convert you, just sharing some insight. I would need to know more information on him of course. Can you give us more info?


#6

I recieve a lot of these kind of emails, letters, poems from many of my non-Catholic and Catholic friends. The first thing I think of is “how wonderful that they have that faith.” Then I think “wouldn’t it be great for some of them to have a deeper faith.”

Letters like these shouldn’t bother you. They’re just expressing their understanding of following Jesus. No need to debate them or refute them - unless, of course, they’re really blatant about it.


#7

Maturity means, at least in part, that other people don’t have to do your thinking for you. Little by little, I began to understand that what I believed about God, what kind of a God I believed God to be, were things which I knew through the life and the death of Jesus…

Typical Protestant behavior. He is now a grown-up who can read the English translations of the Bible and talk directly with God and come up with what it means to him to have faith. It also gives off an air of relativism in that we each have our own versions of faith and reality and they are all accurate. I think as long as they KEEP walking and following those bread crumbs they will eventually mature into the Catholic faith. Maturity does not mean that others don’t do your thinking for you. It means that you are able to wisely be governed by the rules and norms of others. We have societal expectations, traditions, manners, rules, laws, bosses, police officers, etc etc etc. The same is true about faith and religion. We must subject ourselves to the wisdom and mercy of the Lord, who instituted His church here on earth.

It sounds to me like he has come a long way in his faith, and has a long way yet to go. I pray he remain open to the working of the Holy Spirit and that God lead his feet to the fullness of truth.


#8

I took two things out of it… First, he seems to say that if someone is strong enough in their faith to believe a specific truth about Christ, they are bad and smug. Second, he seems to say that he didn’t have to change himself at all because Christ loved him for who he was, and whatever it is he personally believed was what God was. I just wanted to see if others got the same impression.


#9

Lazer:

JPII: Christ reveals man to himself.
BXVI: Be not afraid of Christ.

He pretty much personalized the words of our beloved Popes.
I think it’s an honest letter.

in XT.


#10

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