lördag 15 augusti 2009

Should one become a Christian?

I have come across a couple of people recently who go to church regularly but are not formally members. One has been going to a Catholic Mass regularly for the past twenty years. Another person I met alternates between Catholic and Protestant churches.

What should they do? In the first example, the subject came up over coffee. I said “it was between you and God”. There was no need to discuss the matter except to answer questions.

Much the same applies in the second example. If someone is drawn to attending church, God is obviously at work.But these things have their own momentum and go at their own speed. If and when the time is ripe for taking a more positive step, then they will feel it as something they have to go through with. If one comes across people at that stage of their spiritual life, the last thing to do is to push them.

Someone who is attending both Catholic and Protestant churches also needs to do the necessary background reading to find out what both stand for. It is even more important to take one’s time. The Catholic Church claims to be the lineal descendant of the church that Christ founded, with an apostolic line of succession and valid priestly orders, such that the sacraments are literally the Body and Blood of Christ, as is made clear in scripture. That is why I became and remain a member of the Catholic Church. It is not a decision I have ever regretted, but anyone who joins it is going to be disappointed if they expect perfection. There will be plenty of things they will dislike. But the church is made up of ordinary fallible people so the mistake lies in having the expectations.

That said, there will be plenty of things to like – good company, good conversation, a chance to experience the best of music, architecture and the arts if one so wishes, and an endless round of social activities. But these are not a reason for joining, but the bonus one gets if one does.

But becoming a Christian is not something one does. It is something that happens to people, and it is necessary only to be open to the experience.

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