Add to your faith…

I was thinking tonight how often Christians are put on the defense regarding their faith.  It’s true we are to contend for the faith, and to be ready with an answer when we are asked.  I have never been good at this, as a rule, I tend to shy away from confrontation, and I do not like to argue, and this is especially so when the person on the other side is articulate and eloquent, and on the offensive.  Seriously, I just shut down.

When I first was confirmed in the Catholic Church, it caused a lot of questions from my Protestant friends that needed to be answered. For me, faith comes easy, once authority is established.  Often my answer consisted of “I believe the Catholic Church is the authority that Christ established on the earth before he ascended to heaven, and I’m still learning all the particulars”.  As I have continued to learn and grow in my faith, I have still been overwhelmed at the challenge to defend it.  I’m still working all that out, but I think the fault of that lies somewhere in between my nature, and the nature of the questions hurled at me.  I don’t know where to start with a vague question like “how can you believe in purgatory”?  My eyes glaze over and roll back just thinking about all the information and misinformation there is about purgatory, I mean, where does one even start with that answer?

I have determined from now on, my answer will be a question, something like “what about ______ do you find hard to believe?  How do you define _______, or what do you believe about it?” and go from there with my answer, addressing what I don’t believe and affirming what I do believe.

I was thinking about how we are instructed to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind.  And how different people are wired differently, but we all have the same command.  It’s easy for me to love with my heart and soul.  I am an emotion-driven believer.  That doesn’t mean I don’t engage my mind, but that it doesn’t come as naturally to me to do so, as emotions do.  But I am still instructed to love the Lord with my mind, and so knowledge is important in a proper defense of the faith.  As I’ve grown and learned, I have tried to follow the advice given in 2 Peter 1:5-11

…support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For anyone who lacks these things is short-sighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins. Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.

A list!  I love lists!

When I first read this passage, I thought faith was the foundation, and onto our faith we add goodness supported with knowledge, and so on…but the more I look at it, I believe I read it in the wrong order…love is the foundation, and love supports mutual affection, which supports godliness, which supports endurance, which supports self control, which supports knowledge, which supports goodness which supports faith.

Love is first…then all the other things are added on and should be increasing in us, building our faith.  As long as they are, we are effective and fruitful in the KNOWLEDGE of Jesus Christ.  This line of thinking reminds me of 1 Cor. 13…where without love, I am nothing.

I love the next part of this passage.  Peter basically says, “I know you know this, and are already established in the truth, but this is so important, I’m going to keep reminding you of it anyway.”  I think we should be reminding each other as well, this is important.  Love, mutual affection, godliness, endurance, self control, knowledge, and goodness need to be increasing in us while we are growing in our faith, in truth.  

 

 

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5 comments on “Add to your faith…

  1. Hey Lyn,

    Good post and I know exactly what you mean. I have never had to defend so much as I have had to do since converting. Let me suggest two books that will help you greatly with this. The Biblical Reasons for the Catholic Faith by John Salza. A Father Who Keeps His Promises by Scott Hahn.

    As you know with all Protestants you must show them where it is in the Bible. These two books will help you do that. The reason they do not understand Tradition, (we did not either) is because only one Church was given these Traditions. That is the Catholic Church. They cannot understand what they do not have, nor were ever taught. These two books will give you where it all came from.

    I have found if I can correlate it with the Bible, if nothing else it brings silence instead of condemnation, which is what I want. It is not so much that we must defend, but how we defend that matters. Girl, I have even been called the “spawn of the devil” because I am Catholic. Did not defend that one too holy! 🙂

    It is love that matters, and as Catholics we are taught about love all the time. To some it is more about their “doctrine” and we need the tools to defend when we are called to. So read these two books. God Bless, SR

    • SR, thank you for the affirmations and reading suggestions. I love Scott Hahn’s Rome Sweet Home, and gleaned a lot through identifying with his experiences. I hadn’t heard of A Father Who Keeps His Promises, but I”m excited to find it now.

      You know, some of the scariest things to me were Traditions…and they have since become some of my most beautiful treasures, because of knowledge and understanding.

      You know, I’ve seen embarrassing behavior on both sides of the Prot/Cath debate; especially online. The enemy LOVES to stir up strife, and his specialty is religious strife…he gets to use his favorite weapons, ego, pride, self-esteem…always looking out for #1, that’s his M.O. I especially love your comment’s last thought. It’s all about love. I don’t know how we as humans have done it, but we have lost the art of letting an insult roll off. Yes, we will be insulted, and yes, we will be invited to fight, but we don’t have to accept every invitation we get to those parties. We can graciously decline and walk in love…and not only are we able to, we are CALLED to do just that. Something I think about a lot is that my words will only portray part of a truth. How I present it, my intentions, my tone, and my body language will speak much louder. Is this argument about being right? This will show and speak volumes louder than any theological or eschatological argument will, no matter how eloquently phrased. If I don’t have love, it’s all just noise. (1Cor 13)

  2. Hey Lyn,

    Yes, it is hard to let an insult roll off of our backs. I am not sure at all times we should, I do think there is a time to defend. Like when I was called the “spawn of the devil for being Catholic.” I mean that did bring forth righteous anger within me, and I did handle it as such. It was not that I did not love the person, I still love them, I do think though I had the right to defend myself with that comment.

    Defending does not always mean, “we do not love.” I think what we have to remember is we need to discern when it is time to defend and when it is time to hush. My guide on that is, is when something happens or is said, am I going to go off the deep end with it or not? I can become pretty harsh if I am truly hurt. You can make me mad all you want, but if you hurt me, that is a whole different reaction in me. So I really have to discern between the two.

    Be sure to get the other book as well Lyn. That will give you the guides you need in the Bible to defend and to do it well. It has been a tremendous help to me.

    I love the Traditions also. Do you ever ask yourself, “Why God chose you to become Catholic, and in doing so, receiving His fullness?” I ask myself that question all the time. Love you and God Bless, SR

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