Thursday, December 27, 2012

Finding the true church of Christ

You ask me, my fellow Christian, how I can be so certain that the Catholic Church is the true church of Christ.  It's a good question, and a fair question to ask, for Saint Paul warns us in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, "test everything. Hold on to what is good." So we, as Christians, have an obligation to test our faith, to be absolutely certain that we are on the right path and are not being deceived by the Father of lies into following a path that is not of Christ's own making.

I have given a great deal of consideration as to how to spot the true church from her counterfeits.  What I see is that the true church is the one that most resembles Christ himself.  So, let us examine what we know about Christ as a beginning.

1. Christ unified the people.

Now, this one requires explanation for it isn't always obvious to see the unity in scripture.  There were two groups that were united by Christ - those who were for him, and those who were against him.  He was able to unite the Scribes, Pharisees, Chief Priests, Elders, Hellodians, and even the Romans as they worked together to eliminate a common enemy - Christ.  They hated one another with a passion second only to their hatred of Christ, but Christ united them like nothing else could or ever had done before.  The only thing they could agree on was that Christ must go.

Those who were friends of Christ might not have agreed on much else, but they agreed on their love of Christ.  They were a motley crew of broken individuals striving for the peace that the world could not give and finding it in Him.  Tax collectors, sinners, prostitutes, blind men, lepers, thieves, fishers, the lowest of the low found refuge in His friendship.

2. Christ divided people.

The division between those who followed Christ and those who opposed Him was clear. To follow Christ meant choosing to be looked down upon by those in power, to be hunted, to be laughed at and ridiculed.  It was not something easy to do.  It took courage and it took a strong will.

3. Christ spoke the truth, even when no one else would.

Part of what got Him so hated was His willingness to speak the truth when people wanted Him to confirm them in their sins. He condemned all manner of evils.  It wasn't appreciated by most, but those few who accepted His message came to see that it was the most loving thing He could have done for them, for in giving up those evils they found a freedom unknown before.

4. Christ was betrayed by His own.

It wasn't a stranger that betrayed Christ, it was Judas - one of His own.

5. Christ was sacrificed for our sins.

Christ was pure, holy, and unblemished. It was not something He did that brought about His death, but His efforts to save us. If he had remained silent, if he had stopped preaching and teaching the truth, He could have lived - but He would not and so He died.

Therefore, in examining all of this, let us look at the Catholic Church.

1. The Catholic Church unifies the world.

There is no other Church in the world that unifies Protestants of all stripes, Mormons, Muslims, secularists, atheists, agnostics, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans, witches, satanists,and even those who claim the name but disavow the beliefs of Catholicism.  They can't agree on anything else, and most often they can't even agree on why the Church is wrong, but they are all in agreement that the Catholic Church is WRONG. They reluctantly admit to agreeing with her on some things, but still reject her overall teaching.

On the other side, those of us who are firmly and faithfully Catholic, are united in our love for the Church.  We are a broken group of misfits and outcasts who are so grateful for the gifts that the Church gives us that we cannot even think of abandoning her.  We may have nothing but the Church in common, but in her we find the courage to become brothers and sisters.

2. The Catholic Church divides the world

The division between those who are faithful to the Catholic Church and those who are not is clear. We are hated by the world. To be Catholic means choosing to be hated, many times hunted (see Egypt and China), ridiculed, berated, and looked down upon.  It is not a church for the weak willed or the faint of heart. It takes courage to stand up for the Catholic Church especially in the public square.

3. The Catholic Church speaks the truth even when no one else will.

While other Christian churches bowed down and paid homage to the false gods of contraception, abortion, euthanasia, women priests, and practicing homosexuality - it was and is the Catholic Church whose stance remains clear and unchanged.  She teaches truth, no matter how loudly the world may boo and hiss as she does it. She teaches truth, even when that truth is misunderstood and denigrated and ridiculed.  She teaches truth because even though it isn't always appreciated, those few who do appreciate it come to see that it is the most loving message she could give and are saved by it.

4. The Catholic Church is betrayed by her own.

Those who claim the mantle of Catholicism are often her worst enemies. The Church is riddled with those who claim to be her children all while betraying her to those who hope to destroy her.

5. The Catholic Church is sacrificed for the sins of the world.

The Church is pure, holy, and unblemished.  Her teachings remain incorruptible, protected by her spouse Christ Jesus.  She is daily sacrificed for the sins of the world, persecuted because of the sins of believers and non-believers alike, and she is sacrificed for her efforts to save us.  If she would remain silent, if she did not teach the truth, the world would be content to allow her to go about her business unmolested.  However, she does speak the truth. She does stand up for those who are oppressed. She does speak out against evil and sin, and so she is sacrificed for us all.

These are just five of the parallels between Christ and the Catholic Church. I urge you to examine them closely, to think on them.  I will give you five more tomorrow.

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