It is a question that sadly needs to be asked, is the Church worth fighting for? Why? And what does this mean for me?
At some point, you’ve either been this guy or this girl in this situation or witnessed a good friend in this situation: A romantic relationship came to a crashing a halt, and you must decide do I hold out hope that this relationship can be restored? Is this relationship worth fighting for? Or is it over?
Many Catholics over the last few years have sadly felt like their relationship with the church has gone up in smoke or that they church the fell in love with looks so very bruised and broken. Some feel disillusioned with the Church on a broader level. Even more people have experienced the brokenness of the church on the local parish.
So, do we fight for the church? Why? And what does this look like?
Many of you know that my full-time job is the President of Vagabond Missions, a Catholic ministry to inner-city kids. Our amazing missionaries work alongside our mission partners to reach out to unchurched kids. In the cities we serve, we partner with the diocese and a local area parish church. The partnerships are a big part of how we operate and we are blessed that several of our youth centers are in buildings owned by a parish partner.
About a month ago, I was feeling frustrated. I don’t even remember what the specifics were, but I began to think maybe it would be easier to operate a non-profit that didn’t have to deal with the politics of church life.
I realized I was grappling with the question. Is the Church worth fighting for?
It may seem like an oxymoron, but I felt like the Lord spoke to me in a way that was both subtle and loud. His answer in my prayer was also both direct and indirect.
“I died for the church.”
I contemplate Jesus dying for me sometimes in prayer. Sometimes I may even spend some time praying about how Jesus died for the Church. He was not only fighting for the big “C” Church, meaning the Church he wanted to establish, but I felt like he was saying so much more to me.
He fought for his bride radically. He laid down his life that his bride might live. I felt like he was saying to me that he didn’t do this for a theological concept, but for the local church as well, “the parish.”
To the world, it looked like he gave up, but we know that isn’t the storyline. We can be tempted to give up on the broader idea of the church or on its expression in our local community, but we need to remember the love of the cross is his love of the church.
We can’t give up. The world needs the church. You need the church. I need the church.
She’s beautiful. She’s broken. She seems to be a mess, but we can’t stop fighting for her.
“In her voyage across the ocean of this world, the Church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life’s different stresses. Our duty is not to abandon ship but to keep her on her course.” – Saint Boniface
The church needs you.
Let’s fight. Let’s recommit to following Christ, knowing that means taking up the cross day after day. Don’t give up on the church because Jesus didn’t. Don’t give up because Jesus didn’t give up on you.
Christ didn’t merely forfeit his life. He suffered. He endured excruciating pain.
The fight isn’t going to be easy. The fight means tough conversations. It involves exposing the darkness to the light. It means accountability and a new transparency.
The new ardor, new method, and new expression of the new evangelization are needed desperately today.
But let’s be perfectly clear. What the Church needs most of each of us, is simply what Christ asks of us: our entire lives. Our response to his love must be holiness. We need a generation of people striving to be saints who love the bride of Christ as he did who are willing to die to ourselves each day and pick up their cross.
Let’s pray. Let’s fast. We need the church, and the church needs us.
I’d love to know what you think. Please comment below or shoot me an email.
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