Unleash Your Inner Warrior
My dear warrior,
Over these last few months as I have been wrangling with deep questions and seeking out truth as objectively as possible (as I’ve talked about in my last 3 blogs posts or so), I have often found myself wrangling with questions that seemed to burden my heart even more than the last. Each question got heavier, and each answer ended up more glorious than the last! As challenging as it has been, each answer has been far more rewarding than anything I could have imagined. A few of the questions I have been racking my mind over were: who is Christian? How is “one holy catholic and apostolic church” defined? What about all the people who profess Christ by their lips but deny Him by their lifestyle? This week has been a glory-fest of answers for the mind-numbing questions with which I have been wrestling.
As I sat in Catechism class this week, I was thinking of all the various denominations out there, and all the heresies that run rampant, and all the people who claim they are Christian but then live like heathens, and my question was: who is Christian? What determines if you are a Christian or not? The answer I was given is that those who hold to the confession of the historic creeds are Christian. If you asked someone from the Early Church right now what they would consider a Christian, their answer would be that if you hold to the historic creeds (the Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed and Athanasian Creed) then you are Christian. If you deviate from these in any way, then you are not Christian. You cannot claim to know Christ, but then deny any of the truths that are established in the very doctrines that define and outline Christianity.
I have run into many who call themselves Catholic but do not practice, and have met many Protestants who profess a radical faith that does not even resemble Christianity anymore, (falling off the ends of the compass rose I previously wrote about), so I was incredibly relieved to finally have some semblance of a solid answer there. What confused me is that Evangelical and Catholic and Pentecostal and Orthodox believers (and everyone else on the spectrum) are all at each others throats, each claiming they are Christian and each denying that the other is a true believer in Christ. They are either doubtful that God works in the lives of those from a tradition different than their own, or completely deny God's power that is made evident in their lives (and go so far a to call it demonic). I could not reconcile one with another. Christianity is the one true faith and we are meant to be a unified body, and yet each one claimed to be in sole possession of the truth. My heart was torn.
The next step after that question was, if true Christians profess the ancient creeds, then what is it we are claiming when we say we are one holy catholic church? I have always known the creed to say catholic, lower case ‘c’—that is from the Greek word katholikos (καθολικός), meaning universal. That makes sense now if, as Christians, we are one universal church, one body of Christ. But that is only one use of the word. As it turns out, historically, there are actually 4 ways in which the term ‘catholic’ is used:
Certain traditions hold fast to the beliefs of Apostolic Succession (Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglicans) and others (Protestants, Evangelicals and other ‘independent’ churches) do not believe it all, and throw it (along with many other beautiful historical traditions) out. I find it tragic that so many non-Catholics would throw the baby out with the bathwater as a reaction to the things they see wrong in the Roman Catholic Church. The more I dig into historic Christianity, the more lost beauty I discover and fall in love with. (Yes, even things that the Roman Catholic Church has lost sight of).
In discovering all of these things for myself, I have been finding myself more and more stunned at all that people do not know, and have often found myself becoming angry and frustrated at the baseless assumptions that people make about historic Christianity and the absolute vitriol they have towards Christians who come from other traditions, and the raging animosity they have towards tradition and the reality of the historic church. But the anger I felt towards people who adamantly dig their heels into ignorance and insist they are right quickly turned to heartache. God changed my heart towards these people very quickly and He showed me a new way to see them. Rather than becoming angry at them for what they do not know, or becoming infuriated with them for not being hungry for truth, or being frustrated at their preference to comfort over growth (or for flat out rejecting truth because they are scared of the unknown), we should love these people. We ought to have compassion, have mercy on them and be patient with them.
We can gently lead and guide people and teach them little by little as they become ready and as God moves our hearts to teach them things. But for us to become angry with them for their ignorance is pure arrogance. Think about it: just because someone doesn’t immediately take to what you know is true and that you want to share with them does not make them a hopeless case. Just because someone doesn’t get it all right in 3 weeks time doesn’t mean they are a lost cause. Thank God that He did not give up on you when you didn’t ‘master’ Christianity in a 3 weeks time! Praise God for His mercy, goodness, kindness, faithfulness and longsuffering. Without it, we would have all been struck down and cast into Sheol already. But God is patient, not wanting anyone to perish.
The next time you become frustrated with someone who is not interested in what you have to teach, remember that you were like that once too (and might still be unteachable). The next time you become impatient with someone for not learning quickly enough, step back and remember how patient God has been with you. And the next time someone arrogantly insists that they know all, or claims they have all the truth, or is unteachable, let it be a moment in which you humble yourself, and realize that without God’s help, you would know nothing. Let it be a reminder to take a step back and ask God what it is you currently believe that you have been fully convinced is truth that might not be. Having spent the last several months doing that myself, and repeatedly being humbled by His answers, I can only tell you it is worth it. It is worth giving it all up to Him and asking Him to correct you where your beliefs are wrong, or where your understanding of doctrine is lacking or where your intellectual pursuits have fallen short of true wisdom and spiritual understanding that only He can give. Warriors never 'finish' learning. So I challenge you to step forward, especially if you think you've got a good grasp of everything. It is the most glorious thing you could possibly do! We all need to refresh our lenses from time to time and allow God to renew our vision and give us His perspective.
Stay humble, my dear warriors,
©Michèle Aimée, 2016
About the Author
Michèle is a warrior with a passion for God, a deep love of writing, and a fire for combat training. As a warrior, she understands that when she is given orders, she must follow through.