PARADOXICAL

The faith chronicles

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

 

Christianity phobia


The fear of embracing Christianity

Those who commit themselves to live a Christian life unwittingly commit themselves to a higher level of morality and accountability. Probably this explains the hesitation of those who are able to discern this fact at the outset - they are people who are the hardest to evangelize because they are the most intransigent. They pretend they've seen it all and need not see or hear any more.

People fear that “surrendering to the Lord” means goodbye to all the joys life has to offer. They are wary of what's in the store for them in the new life. Don't they say that it is always the good people who die early? Can I still go to parties? Wear my favorite clothes? Hang out with my friends? People are also afraid to let go of their favorite sins.

They are afraid that they might fall again. What if I still fell from grace while enjoying God's abundant mercy?

Of course giving God a chance means giving up certain things, in fact a lot of things if one has been really swallowed up by the world. But from my experience I realize that all these fears are unfounded. God won't allow Himself to be outdone in generosity if we are generous enough in parting with our attachments. I learned that God repays a thousand-fold for everything that is submitted under His Lordship. In fact, the Bible is a book of awesome promises, especially for those who are brave enough to take the risk. "Submit your heart to the Lord and He will grant you your heart's desire." "Not a bone of those who serve Me shall be broken." To state but a few.

Parties? Every Christian fellowship is a party! Friends? God will replace your bad company with true friends. Indulgences? God will show that getting high on Him satisfies the most. Whims? Ah, you haven't tasted how God loves to give little and big surprises! Ambition? What will top God's direction? Your favorite sins? What can possibly replace God's brand of peace?

All the things God is asking you to give up are bad for you in the first place. God enters your life to deliver you from the devil's work, so there's no reason to fear God and everything to fear the devil (or what it can do). All of life's negativity are not from God but from the enemy. God is the one who gives anything that is truly nice, sweet, enjoyable, pure, exciting, noble.

Three of my greatest rewards for submitting my life to God are: deliverance, detachment and direction. They're the greatest surprises of my life. I didn't expect that it would be like this. He has delivered me, and continues to, from destructive habits and behavior. He has given me the grace to detach from worldly cares, re-channeling my former attachments to the one attachment that endures, that matters most: the hope of eternal life and His presence in the present life. Lastly, I didn't expect God directing me to the true desire of my heart, thus freeing me from unnecessary distractions and wasteful experimentation. I had thought I'd become a doctor, a teacher or even a priest and it would have been disastrous had I chosen my will for myself.

Life is a risk and submitting to God is one major risk. But it's the only risk worth taking. The challenge is, once you have accepted God, how far can you allow God to be God? The answer is obvious - a life in God has that singular prerequisite: faith. But one must deal with the fear first before ever going into faith.


Pride, or is it denial

Pride, in the form of constantly denying God's gentle whispers of invitation, is another challenge. It’s when someone somehow knows that he or she is being called but because of stubbornness, the call seems to be just not loud enough.

While it's possible in the case of hesitant souls that their time has not yet come, the other probability is the reality of denial. If one's time is not now, then when? Spiritual deafness and blindness is such a risk. God might not come knocking back.

The thing to exploit in cases such as this is the fact that most people are really good, most people love God and are willing to serve. It's just that they are being sidetracked by obstacles known only to them and to God.

The greatest of these obstacles is pride, especially one that claims knowledge in the face of partial understanding, divine wisdom in the face of fractured notions, openness in the face of a closed mind.

I know whereof I speak. If I recall the times I had been spiritually deaf and blind, I am ashamed to admit that there were a lot. Looking back, I realize I was first being called at the time when movie stars known for a drug-and-sex-crazed life began talking about their improbable conversions on TV. Then there were those overzealous born-agains claiming they have seen God. At the time, I saw plain gimmickry in the name of self-promotion through media mileage. I saw nothing but pure rebellion against the Catholic church, I saw nothing but falsehood and demagoguery. Worst, I saw the devil behind it, orchestrating a vast conspiracy to destroy an entire faith and an entire people. I failed to see it could be the Spirit animating God's people in whatever faith they may be professing. I failed to see it could be the Paraclete slowly descending on the world that the world may be renewed in a Second Pentecost.

Now that the tables are turned on me, all I can do is pray and persist in witnessing despite the incredulity and strong opposition that may come my way.

12.14-16.2000


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