Rousing Her Radiance: Day 26
‘Is the price we are paying today with the collapse of the organized churches anything else but an inevitable consequence of grace acquired too cheaply? We poured out rivers of grace without end, but the call to rigorously follow Christ was seldom heard. What happened to the insights of the ancient church, which in the baptismal teaching watched so carefully over the boundary between the church and the world, over costly grace? What happened to Luther’s warnings against a proclamation of the gospel which made people secure in their godless lives? Cheap grace was very unmerciful to our Protestant church.’ - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Cost of Discipleship
There are many who applaud the Catholic Church for ‘getting on the right side of history’ related to embracing rainbow rights. They just aren’t Christians. Or if they claim to be, their values reflect the world more than the Church. You won’t see them at Mass or in prayer groups. They don’t particularly like the Church.
Whatever stops and starts Francis makes about accompanying LGBTQ+ers back to Church, these observers aren’t following. Whoopi Goldberg has no intention of becoming Catholic; she just wants the Church to reflect her values.
Marco and I serve two different parishes, but we share similar experiences with zealous non-believers in each. The truth is many ‘born that way’ Catholics pose no threat to our common enemy in their unconverted lives. They just hate ‘Living Waters.’ As soon as dormant members discover that we have left homosexuality behind and want to help others (from any number of backgrounds) to advance in chastity, they wake up and smear us as dangerous ‘conversion’ therapists.
Combatants from both parishes went to their respective elders and insisted we posed a threat to vulnerable youth. We discovered three things. One, they know nothing about what Living Waters is. Two, they are protecting a loved one who is out-and-proud (one accuser wrote an anonymous letter to the pastor that her ‘gay’-identified son was ‘perfect’). And three, they are members in name only who participate little in the life of the Church.
They want a ‘gay’-friendly church but don’t want to go to Church themselves. That’s the thing. Those who seek to broaden the ‘narrow Way that leads to life’ (Matt. 7:13-14) do so for no one. His life has yet to pierce theirs; they’ve no reason (yet) to repent and linger at the altar.
The truth remains. People come to Church to get saved: to know this Jesus who gave all to gain them. His total gift of love provokes us to refuse any lesser love that frustrates His for us. How can we not seek solidarity with others in route to new life? We need the Church more today than yesterday!
I hope our witness invites zealous non-believers to get saved, to discover something of costly grace. Bonhoeffer writes better than anyone of the tension between cheap and costly grace—that tendency in each of us to admire the lovely Cross adorned with flowers at Easter and to scorn the Bloody God of Good Friday.
We who embrace our little crosses may well destabilize and provoke unconverted church members. But let us also be radiant invitations of Jesus’ outstretched arms! Let us gather afresh, joyfully enduring the scorn, as we grow into His fullness.
‘Costly grace is the sanctuary of God; it has to be protected from the world. Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and contrite heart. Blessed are they who in this sense have become Christians, for whom the word of grace has been merciful.’ - Bonhoeffer
‘Jesus, thank You for the grace that calls us to lay aside all to follow you, one sin, one idol, one deception at a time. You, the Word of truth, always fill us with good things. Thank You too for the treasury of Your Church, the place of the great exchange! May we reflect something radiantly clear about Bride and Bridegroom amid ‘rainbow’ confusion.’
‘Father, we thank You for Jesus who established the Church on a Rock against which hell will not prevail (Matt 16:18). We pray for every Christian leader to build on Her firm foundation of sexual clarity and integrity. Father, unmask the deceiver and divider of Christians and unite us in one Spirit. As weak members of Christ, we ask for truth to guide our pursuit of sexual wholeness, for grace to sustain it, and for spiritual power to transform us. May we reflect the chaste radiance of Jesus (2 Cor. 3:18) as we “shine like stars in the universe, holding out the word of life” (Phil. 2:15-16) to a lost and hurting world.’