Last week I was driving my nephew and his friend back home, my nephew lives with me and his friend had spent the night so he attended Mass with us. On the way home his friend said he was thinking about getting baptized in to the Faith. I was happy to hear that, I am always happy to hear anyone say they want to come home to the Catholic faith. And him being a 16 year old youth, I was even more so. But, as I always do, I asked him why, why did he want to enter the faith. His response was typical, when I die I don’t want to go to hell.
Some would say so, and sign them up, tell them Jesus loves you and don’t worry be happy. But not me.
No, not really, it is a reason, but not truly a good reason to become Catholic. Why would I say that, what makes me thing that avoiding Hell is not a good reason. Aren’t we all doing that, following the ten commandments, doing good, praying attending Mass all in an attempt to avoid hell? No, I’m not, not sure about you, but that is not my main point.
So if not to avoid hell, than why?
To attain Heaven!
Hmmm, you may be thinking I am just splitting hairs, that I am just stating the same thing, but using different words. But I am not, the two are exact opposites of each other, directly opposed to each other.
Lets look at the first statement:
“When I die I don’t want to go to Hell”
At the very basic level, the statement is harmless. Very noble ambition. My response to him was “but do you know what the Church teaches?” “Are you willing to follow her teachings?”/ Both questions invoked a look of confusion, a look that said it all, a look that said “Wait, I have to do something, I have to follow rules?” a look that said “I thought saying I was Catholic was enough, I thought Jesus loved me”.
The quest to avoid hell is a quest of negativeness, a quest of avoidance. It looks at life as a series of task designed to avoid rather than engage. Consider the youth or co-worker who does their best to not do their work. Often times we say of them “If only they would put as much effort in to doing the work as they did in trying not to do the work…” Well, the same holds true for the way we chose to interact with our faith. Do we interact in a negative or positive way. Do we look at our faith and Church as positive or negative? Do we consider ourselves playing offense or defense?
How we choose to enter in to the faith will shape how we live out our faith.
By choosing to enter in to the faith with a negative statement will ensure that your faith journey will be one of a series of negative events. We do project our feelings on to our reality. With the negative outlook on the faith we will see the faith tinted through the lenses of our eyes. The tint will darken all we see and feel. Our faith will be one of darkness one of shadows and hidden corners lurking about to trip us up.
We are called to search for heaven and in doing so we will naturally avoid hell. Jesus talked more about the Kingdom of heaven more that he did about the depths of hell. Jesus gave us the positive message of the Beatitudes to follow, a message the has its goal Heaven. The Catholic faith is an uplifting positive faith, not one that is a heavy weight to hold us down, nor one that uses the darkens of hell as her message.
My Nephews friend was looking at the Church as a way to avoid and not as a way to obtain.
I can avoid debt or I can obtain wealth. The simple fact that I avoid debt does not automatically mean I will obtain wealth, but to obtain true wealth I must avoid debt. The same logic can be applied to the two seemingly similar statements “Avoid Hell” and “Obtain Heaven”. I can do all the things to avoid hell, yet still not enter in to the Kingdom. recall the story of the young rich man who asked Jesus what he must do to follow him.
17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? 18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.
19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. 20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. 21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.
The rich man was trying to avoid hell, not obtain heaven. He was willing to avoid all the pitfalls, but unwilling to seek the kingdom.
Are you avoiding or seeking?
Is your faith positive or negative?
Are you entering in to a relationship that is seeking truth or a relationship avoiding it?
Bible Verse of the Day….
|Deuteronomy 7:9“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.”Brought to you by BibleGateway.com. Copyright (C) . All Rights Reserved.|