I made some new friends on my trip to Tennessee. They are Roman Catholics, they're good people, and they love Jesus. We shared some good cigars, drank some Lucky Number 7, good Port, and shared our thoughts on faith, family, movies and various other issues, all in an effort to solve the worlds problems.
5 Cubans and a Chilean in the Smokey Mountains solving world issues... HA!
We talked about the differences and similarities being from Roman Catholic background, and Protestant background. We each quietly noted differences which keep us content to be where we are. We also noted similarities which drew us to a realization that we are children of a great and mighty God, who laughs at our differences and loves us in spite of them.
I'm not sure where we left off; was everyone comfortable, or were there doubts that still lingered? I don't know. It doesn't really matter.
One of my heroes, philosopher, writer, and Roman Catholic, G.K. Chesterton, once said this about the Catholic church, "The moment men cease to pull against it they feel a tug towards it. The moment they cease to shout it down they begin to listen to it with pleasure. The moment they try to be fair to it they begin to be fond of it . . ."
To my friends who are grabbing for their guns ready to bring up works, praying to Saints, the Inquisition, child-molesting priests, etc..., put your guns back in your holsters. Relax. Take a deep, non-Pharisaical breath. Your utterances will not change anyone's opinion. Also, if you look at the failings of the Catholic church, you will be forced to acknowledge the failings of the 100's of thousands of Protestant churches and various denominations with their many hypocricies, marketing plans, false theology and various other misgivings.
I'm not changing my membership to a Catholic church. I love my heritage on the Protestant side of the fence. I am also fond of the history and mystic nature of the Catholic faith. As Protestants, we are deprived of some wonderful tradition going back over thousands of years. At the same time, I am so thankful for my understanding of God's grace. I am thankful for the teachings of Luther and Calvin, who helped nurture that.
I am also aware that much of my understanding of God's Grace came from people like St. Augustine, St. Francis, Thomas Merton, Chesterton, and St. Manning (HI AL!!)... all Catholics.
I guess what I was reminded of on this trip was that I'm not so interested in being right anymore. It's important to have conviction, but it is also important to listen. There is one way of Salvation, being Christ, but it is important to be loving and gracious; not combative and defensive.
I don't want to be right. I want to share what Christ has done in my life. I want to tell people of His Grace and mercy. I want to tell people that Jesus loves them, without having to be right. I want to trust that Christ, not I, will do a work in peoples live.
As the body of Christ, we need less bickering and more love. It sounds idealistic. It scares the pants off of the "non-ecumenical" crowd. I'm not talking about being ecumenical. We just need to be a people that live what we believe, and stop talking about what we believe.
We need to stop trying to be right.