The world will never understand Christianity.
Because Christianity is not of this world. Christianity is in the world, but not of the world. Clearly, the Church needs to be in the world. It needs to be human in every sense of the word. It needs to be present to the daily struggles of men and women. It needs to be a counsel to culture and to people in positions of authority. But Christianity is not just another worldly institution, like the government, or WalMart, or something like that. Christianity, the Church, is not from the world. It is from Jesus Christ. We don’t measure the success of the Church by how many accolades we receive from hip, with-it types of people. The measure by which the Church is faithful to the Master’s intentions is the measure of Her success. The world will always see Christianity as wrong, even bad, but that is ok. It doesn’t matter what they think, and it never really did.
The authorities of the world are constantly trying to bind the Church because they don’t believe that the Church is divinely made by Jesus. If they did believe that, they would join; they would think and act with the knowledge that we have been redeemed and given the gift of peace through Christ. Instead, governments and cultural forces continue to ignore, even attack, the Church. Mostly, this is out of ignorance. Sometimes, it is out of malice; a deliberate attempt to break apart the Church as a social reality that rivals that of the state (for example, see 1790 France, 1930’s Germany, 1950’s Eastern Europe, China today). Many people think that our Church is just another social group. We who believe in the Bible, who believe in Jesus’ Resurrection and His sending of the Spirit, who believe in Reconciliation and the Eucharist, know better. But understand that other people are in fundamental disagreement with us, and can’t figure out our motivation for life.
This is something for us to keep in mind, as free people in America. We live in a nation that recognizes freedom of religion. We can go to Church on Sunday and wear Crosses around our necks in public if we want. However, we all know that the culture around us thinks that Christianity is quaint, unsophisticated, and useless (one Sunday morning, I did not have to watch the TV for more than 5 minutes before I encountered 2 blatant examples of anti-Christian sentiment – you have similar stories). And these people are doing a fine job leading our culture, aren’t they? Some who are in the religion business would like to sell you on the idea that we have no real cultural opposition. It is really ourselves who cause people to dislike us. While there is some truth to that, such a view is shortsighted. Some people simply don’t like the concept of Christianity. The more worldly a person is, the more likely the hostility.
No, the world will never understand Christianity. But each person is beckoned and called by Christ to “come and see”. Jesus is still alive and present in the world. Each day, He calls men and women to come and see. He calls them to leave behind skepticism and attachments to the things of the world. He calls people to a deeper truth, and a more sincere way of living. Jesus calls us out of our self-created prisons, and into the freedom of being a child of God. He calls us together as One Body, the Church. He shows us Love.
Pitching Christianity to the “powers that be” of the world is a waste of time. But showing Christ to your neighbor, your cousin, your roommate, your teammate? Now, that’s worth the effort. That is how each of us makes sure that Love will always have a home in our hearts, both in this world, and in the world to come!