Saturday, March 2, 2013

My Thoughts During Sede Vacante, Day Two

Inside, I have such joy at being Catholic, but I rarely talk how Catholicism makes me feel, because I think it offends Protestants. I don't want my joy to ever irritate or anger anyone, but it does, so I tend to want to prove my Catholicism first by reason and then I can gush emotionally. 

I know why I suppress my desire to prance about bursting forth with love of Christ and His Blessed Church, but I am not sure that is why other Catholics are so quiet. Perhaps it is because they, like me, don't want their relationship with the Lord mocked and derided. Catholics can be intimidated into silence because certain Protestants will (knowingly or unknowingly) place our theology and sincerity on trial. Sometimes we feel our relationship with Christ is examined and judged in a Protestant Inquisition with a pronouncement of "heretic" because we don't fall in line with what they decide a Christian should believe.

But that isn't the whole reason. I think there is a much deeper reason we do not look like Protestant evangelists. We don't go knocking door to door and hand out pamphlets. We don't give seminars, nor learn gospel proclaiming techniques with fake money or salesman-like pitches we take to the street. 

We tend to be quiet. (Unless you encounter some zealous Protestant converts to Catholicism and they will often use their known methods of proselytizing.)

Just as an observation, having been both a Protestant and Catholic, it seems that Protestants have the energy of a great "fan" in their religion. They are so excited to know Christ, they just can't help but tell everyone "who" they know. They want everyone else to be a fan of Christ. It's like knowing a great celebrity, Protestants will proclaim aloud their friendship with the greatest of the Kings of Kings, the biggest celebrity of all. 

That is what you are seeing with the zeal of a Jesus fanatic. And that is terrific! I felt that way too as Protestant. Jesus is my friend and I wanted the whole world to know how great that is and how they too can feel this wonderful and be assured of salvation when the Kingdom of God comes. We don't have to fear judgement, nor death, for Jesus loves us and died for us! 

Catholics think differently--not to say we have any less love for the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The 2000 year-old Catholic Church goes all the way back to Peter and see themselves as the Bride of Christ, already living securely inside the Kingdom. We are living eternity now within the security of the Kingdom of Heaven, for it is a church!

Just as the wife of the president doesn't go door to door announcing she is the president's wife, so the Bride of Christ doesn't announce to everyone she meets who she is. Instead, the Bride invites everyone to her and she gives them a banquet. She humbles herself to serve her guests and wants them to feel honored. The focus is shifted from a fan to a Bride. And that shift in perspective is important to understand when we dialogue as Protestants and Catholics.

My personal understanding: 

I grew up in Dallas during the 1960's and 1970's when my grandfather was a celebrity of sorts. He founded Ling-Tempco-Vought, Inc. and was wealthy. 

Many of my friends bragged that they were friends with the Ling family. They were so excited to come to my house and be a part of the rich and important people of Dallas. 

But having grown up inside the family, I was taught not to go around announcing who I was--and in fact, it didn't seem a big deal to me. In fact, it was natural. I was taught that it was my obligation to be gracious and invite people into my world so that they could be a part of what they thought was a great way of living. I was expected, even obligated, to do the giving, to be humble. I was to be gracious and kind and inclusive. 

It is just a different way of thinking. We should be accepting and understanding of both Protestant and Catholic perspectives. We should be careful not judge each other on how many times we say God's name or how emotionally we talk about our relationship with God. 

Catholics and Protestants are both going about the business of preaching the gospel of Jesus. Both are enthusiastic, both are wanting to bring others to Jesus, but they are done with a different understanding. One believes in silently serving, first. The other believes in shouting it from the housetops before even an introduction occurs! Both are wonderful. 

I loved being a Protestant and I love being a Catholic. Both have tender hearts towards Christ.