Practicing Christianity

I was speaking with a professional colleague today at a conference we both attended on self-injurious behavior and it relationship with eating disorders. We whispered to each other as the lecturer was speaking how we as therapists are always trying to “get it right” in terms of our therapeutic approaches difficult patients, and how our efforts to help others have extended for over 30 years. I said, “We’ll never get it ‘right’ this side of heaven.” He responded, “Yeah. We are ‘practicing’ therapists and ‘practicing’ Christians.”

Practicing Christians……

Of course, I know what he meant. We continually struggle with our weaknesses and sins; we continue to try to practice virtue and avoid vice; we continue to be disciples, always going deeper into the mystery of God’s love for us and for the world, and bear witness to this love. In that sense, we are practicing Christianity. We are trying to “get it right.”

Did you know, though, that in another sense the practicing has been completed? The fullness is upon us. The victory is already won. The future is present. What has been is no more and what will be has been fulfilled today. The glory of heaven is upon us now. As Jesus himself said, “The Kingdom of God is upon you!”

Our Christianity is not something we try to perfect in our lives. It is already perfect. The gift of grace and the fullness of the Spirit has already been poured into our hearts without measure. God himself lives within us by virtue of our baptism into the death and resurrection of Jesus.

This is the great meditation of Easter. God has called us into life, death and resurrection and shared his Spirit. God has called us into the mystery of Trinitarian life. It is a reality which has been accomplished.

So while it is necessary that we live out our Christian faith, cooperating with the graces and gifts given to us by God, it is equally true that this is not the full story. Christianity isn’t just about practicing virtue and avoiding vice, i.e., Christian life is not defined solely by morality. Christianity is living in the presence of God into whom we have been drawn up in a wondrous fashion. It is a mystery to be experienced. It is a mystery to which we must testify before all peoples.

Practicing Christianity encompasses both being (experiencing our sonship with the Father) and doing (living a moral life).

And as the ancient philosophers have taught us, being is primary. Doing follows.

Wasn’t this the message of Jesus?

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona, Minnesota.
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