As our hearts reel from an acute awareness of the sin in our beloved Church, the call for each one of us to become a saint rings loud and true. I don't know about you, but when I think of the needs that I see in our time, I am honestly overwhelmed. The needs are sometimes more than I can bear to look at. It seems that sexual sin is everywhere- in our church, and if we are honest, in our homes as well. As we try to make sense of it all (wondering if this is even possible), we're also aware of the fact that we live at a time when calling certain sexual acts “sin” causes doors to close, labels of “close-minded” to be given, and efforts to evangelize to be blocked. Sides are taken, and even at a time when we all agree that what has occurred is heinous and repugnant, we are slaughtering each other from within because of our differing opinions regarding how the Church should proceed.
I weep over this Church that I have come to love so deeply. Having been a hard sell…my conversion to Catholicism didn't come easily or without an interior fight…I now feel shaken. I think of Peter walking on the water, but then looking at the waves and sinking. For me, the waves are hopelessness (a feeling that things will never change), powerlessness (a sense that nothing I do can make any difference), and fear (worry and anxiety that it all is going to get worse).
This has caused me to ponder Father John Riccardo's quote, “Saints respond to the needs that they see in their time.”(1) I do not believe that focusing on needs is the same thing as focusing on the waves. The waves threaten to take me under. The needs focus me and motivate me to rise and take my place for such a time as this. They challenge me to engage culture, not just critique it.
What are the primary needs I perceive in the Church today? They will likely be different than the needs you see (that is exactly why we need the entire body of Christ to be engaged and active), but this is what is pressing on my heart:
1) A need for the Church as a whole and us as individuals to be honest and bring sexual sin into the light, regardless of the consequences.
2) A need for cleansing and healing from that sin.
3) A need for people to come to know Jesus personally in a way that transforms everything in their lives.
4) A need for tools so that people can be led into a process of discipleship- a clear plan for growing in holiness.
5) A need for mentors and companions on this faith journey for accountability and comfort.
6) A need for tools so that adults can pass the faith on to the next generation.
I care deeply about all of these things. But I feel God is asking me to fix my eyes on what Jesus is asking me to do about #3, 4, 5, and 6. This is the call He has placed on my life. This is the heart of the Walking with Purpose mission. Choosing to throw my energy, heart and time into these endeavors does not mean that I do not care about the scandals currently facing the church. It does mean that I am not going to shirk my duties, shift my focus, or give in to despair, no matter how disturbed I feel. I commit to stepping into the battlefield, going straight to the area where God has called me to fight, and remaining there.
God looks at each of His children as individuals. In the words of Father Jacques Phillipe, “For God, each person is absolutely unique. Holiness is not the realization of a given model of perfection that is identical for everyone.”(2) His calling and purpose for each person is also distinctive and hand-picked by Him. We all need to do the work of discerning what God is asking of each one of us, and our journeys will look different (this is one of the reasons why comparison is such a pointless activity) .
But many principles and teachings are true for us all. One of those truths is this:
Imbalanced people do not make effective apostles.
It was in that spirit that I wrote the Bible study, Keeping in Balance. Covering topics like surrender, self-discipline, priorities, contentment, rest, service and worship, it draws attention to areas of our lives that need to come under the control of the Holy Spirit. We need to stop settling for making comments and arguing on social media, and instead commit to genuine action, inner transformation and restoration. That's the path to sainthood.
The Bible study concludes with lessons on how to engage culture- how to bring restoration right where we are. Within the pages of Keeping in Balance, we are challenged to pursue deep relationships, live with purpose and meaning, commit to serving others, and strive to be faithful to God in all areas of our lives. If we will do this, we will collectively paint a picture of what each soul longs for and provide hope to our fractured, aching world.
Are you ready to be better equipped to help restore the brokenness within and around you? Is it time for you to dive deeper into these topics?
Shop the WWP online store and let God's Word instruct and strengthen you on the journey.
In surrender to the Lord, but never status quo-
1 John Riccardo, Heaven Starts Now: Becoming a Saint Day by Day (Frederick, MD: The Word Among Us, 2016), 10.
2 Jacques Phillipe, In the School of the Holy Spirit (New York: Scepter Publishing, 2007), 18.