“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly”John 10: 10
One of the challenges some people have in responding to organized religion is a concern that they have got to “get right” with God to have any prosperity in this world and a good life in the hereafter. Many have come to reject the idea of having to measure up to the standards set forth in various Christian faith traditions out of a sense of hopelessness in ever being good enough. Doctrines and church teachings may be confusing, unduly burdensome, and hard to figure out. Others may turn away out of disgust when religious leaders fall terribly short of the mark themselves, often in the worst sort of way. Some don’t even try. We are asked to pray for the “fallen away”, as if to say these souls may become lost in the eyes of Christ by forsaking the church.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to throw my Catholic Christian faith under the bus. I am only stating that God loves us infinitely and pursues us as his precious creatures knowing that at some level, most of us are seeking to more fully experience the love of God, in our own unique and perhaps out of the box ways. Ascribing to a specific religious denomination or church may not always be the first step to bringing others to know the love of Jesus. For me, it’s more about making emotional connections first, acknowledging the intrinsic goodness and value which each person brings, and validating their worth as a child of God.
In sharing the good news of the gospel, which embodies the promise of salvation through the shed blood of Jesus, it is always helpful to point out that each person is endowed with special gifts and talents, intended to serve God’s purpose in this world. Grace is given freely and undeservedly to draw us closer to Christ in order to know and fulfill His will, purpose, and direction in our unique and special lives. As a Catholic, I believe that I am spiritually fortified when receiving the Eucharist as the real presence of Jesus, body, blood, soul and divinity. All told, this is an amazing launching pad to living a more abundant and fulfilling life! (See John 10:10)
Bolstering the value or worth of people gives hope and confidence, unlocking the genius which exists in all people, and helping bring to fruition God’s true purpose in support of the Kingdom. For Christians, church can and should become a collective of believers seeking mutual support in finding a more abundant life, encountering Jesus in our worship, our pastor, faith formation, and the support of our neighbor, knowing there is hope and joy, not despair, and God loves us, no matter what mistakes we have made. As individuals in this collective called church, we will fall down in sin, yet encouraged to get back up, confess our sins, thus allowing the mercy of God to wash each of us clean again.
Our Christian faith is about having an optimism in the future, despite our brokenness, being thankful for our many gifts, knowing we have been saved by love, and that we can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us! (See Philippians 4: 13) It’s a great message – spread the word!
Seize this Blessed Day in Christ!