have to get over ourselves. We seem to complain a lot, muse a lot, and write a lot of how tough we have it and how it seems the Church is in decline and the forces of evil have gathered against us. Woe be to us! Jesus come and save us. Then we wait as we sit on our hands.
First, we seem to have forgotten that the Church is so much larger than us, larger in size, larger in scope, and larger in action. Observant Christians in this country are not the sum of world Christianity we are a “fraction” of it. We belong to a community of brothers and sisters that extends across the globe, a community of which we are neither the apex or the definition. If Christian faith seems to be languishing in the parts of the world inhabited by Western Europeans its thriving elsewhere. Africa? Growing. Asia? Growing. Eastern Europe? Growing. The list could go on. Because your Parish is dwindling doesn’t mean that the Church is and perhaps instead of complaining it would be good for we Americans to humble ourselves a bit and learn from the Christians where the Church is growing about how to grow ourselves.
Next, we are not in persecution. The vast majority of American Christians have never even broken a nail in the cause of Christ. We fret because the election didn’t go our way while in other places of the world buildings are being burned down with the Christians still inside of them. Yes, there are people who dislike us, even hate us in this country, but by and large even our excess hasn’t been threatened. If there were real persecution in this country the truth is that most of us couldn’t take it. Whole denominations of Christians in the US have collapsed just because small groups have complained about something. How do you think it would be if there were, like many places in the world, actual soldiers at our doors? Perhaps the minor inconveniences we experience, again compared to the state of the Faith in the world, are God’s way of gently encouraging us to awake from our contented slumber and face, in a very tiny way, what our brothers and sisters around the world face at levels we can’t even imagine.
And finally, yes, of course we may be in for some tougher times. Who promised that being a Christian would be easy? Certainly not Jesus! Perhaps we need to revisit the actual history of our Faith and realize that as a counter cultural force, even in nominally “christian” societies, a certain amount of struggle is part and parcel of what it means to be faithful. The question seems to be a matter of what we’re going to do about it. Are we going to hunker down, keep the light under the bushel, and mutter as we pick through the end times tea leaves or are we going to realize that as our culture embraces more darkness it’s actually our moment in history to let our lights shine? In the coming days individual Christian people will making such choices, the times are forcing them on us since we seem to have been completely content just going along to get along, and how we choose to respond will make all the difference.
The first choice, though, is to get over ourselves.