I was reading through this article the other day:
It made me think about mobile phones and why our faith isn't like one.
Perhaps I ought to explain. The article – which is a good one – is about an American couple who were using IVF and at the same time displayed a woeful ignorance on church teaching about a number of things.
Sample quote from the mother “According to the church, I can use IVF, confess my mortal sin, gain absolution and get back into God’s good grace. But how do I seek forgiveness for conceiving my children? “ Now I don't propose to address that comment here as the blog author did an excellent job herself..
We are saved, ultimately, by the undeserved and unmerited Grace of God – we know this. But I wonder how many of us stop to think about how closely we are following the instructions God himself gave us? How many stop to think of the implications of ignoring those instructions – either directly as written in the bible or as passed on to us from church teaching?
Why do we do things that we know are wrong? I'm not talking about the normal struggle with sin that we all have in some way shape or form in our lives. I mean the big specific things that we know are wrong and make a conscious decision to ignore (or at least not to look at too closely because we think we shouldn't do it) Things like IVF, Homosexuality, Abortion, Infidelity etc? Having then committed said sin how do we then possibly try to justify what we have done or to weasel out of taking responsibility for it?
How can we blame the church, or even God, for making what we wanted to do sinful? For stopping us from living a normal life in the 21st century?
At an individual level it comes down to either ignorance or the spirit of 'entitlement' which is pervading our current age, sometimes both. Usually ignorance about the concepts of repentance and confession going hand in hand with a sense of being entitled to do something – either perform an action or otherwise – that society accepts as normal but that is against church teaching. Because “I should be able to as well.”
10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. 11 For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," said also, "Do not kill." If you do not commit adultery but do kill, you have become a transgressor of the law. (James 2:10-11 RSV)
Sin is sin. You can argue all you like that you kept 9 of the commandments but it won't matter in the slightest if you continuously break the 10th. Now this sounds harsh but we have only to repent of our sin and the Lord embraces us back like the prodigal son. The thing is 'repent' means to turn away from. It doesn't mean to say “Sorry” with the full intention of doing it again.
Faith is about living to the Gospel, matching your actions with your beliefs so that you can walk righteously with God – insofar as any of us can. Being righteous isn't about being perfect, its about trying as hard as you can to do what God wants you to do and then – when you fall – getting up and trying again.
This is what our Lord tried to tell us when he talked of the narrow and wide paths.
12 So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets. 13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:12-14 RSV)
Its really easy to look at this world and conform to it. It is really hard to look at our faith and the teachings of the church and make a decision not to take / do / have what other people do or have in this world for the sake of following our beliefs. Sometimes this means painful choices and acceptance of things that we would rather were otherwise. Sometimes it may mean that the only way forward for us is prayer and trust in God. Sometimes it just means that we have to forgo some of the things that would make us happy in this life. Immediately preceding this quote Jesus speaks of the Fathers desire to give us 'good gifts' and we should hold that close to our hearts whenever we are forced to look at society and see things we can't have or do.
We need to take solace in the words of our Lord:
I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. (John 10:9 RSV)
He reminds us in the above passage that he, like the Shepherds of old lying down across the gate to the pasture, is the door to heaven and that we can pass safely through him. How do we do this? By following his teaching. However hard things are and however tempting it is to ignore teaching that is difficult or inconvenient we need to remember our route to salvation is by following Jesus and being his disciples. By modelling ourselves on him and doing our best to imitate him.
Most importantly we must keep our faith at the centre and forefront of our lives, above all other concerns:
17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires." 19 These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. 20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21 Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. (Jude 1:17-21)
Faith isn't like an iPhone or a Smart Phone. You can't just take the basic model and add the apps that you want and ignore those you don't. Faith is a little like a Bible. Whats in there is in there no matter if we like it or not. It is an instruction manual on how to live, not a novel for our enjoyment.
You can, of course, get a Bible app.By Cant Oves of http://caveevangelista.wordpress.com