I am convinced that we ( including myself ) are often upset with our spiritual life and our priests sinful actions whether they be major or minor in occurrence. It is important for us to look at another’s actions and scold them for it, this I am not contending. But I think that many of us leave the church or either stay but are always unhappy with the church and never quite content. Why is this? I do believe it is because we make expectations out of our priests and clergy and even some lay people who would be quite vocal about their faith.
When the time comes and we see a brother fall, we seem to get upset because we thought they were holy, we thought that they were very Christian and they didn’t live up to our expectations that we moulded for ourselves in our heads and now we are upset with them. We paint this wonderful picture in our heads of how every Christian should be but we rarely take a look at how we should be, we rarely take a look at ourselves and the splinter in our own eye.
Sometimes it can be the case that when our own spiritual lives are messy we can often get some kind of satisfaction in seeing our brother fall who we see out and about trying to live his faith, being very vocal about it, falling but getting back up again. I think many of us rejoice at this downfall because we don’t see love as really being possible. We believe in perfection but fail to understand that whilst Jesus requires this of us, the perfect are always the ones who admit they are not perfect. Does that make sense? Because there is no humility in tooting ones horn and strutting around labelling themselves as perfect. It is precisely in the confession that we are imperfect before God is what at least would be a step towards perfection.
We have been taught by the world that we must be perfect and this is attainable. We are thought by Jesus however to become perfect but its not a perfection that comes with the burden of being enslaved by the ego and strutting our stuff about and tooting our horn. It is a perfection that is attained by admitting before God and others that we are not so perfect and it is never something we can truly attain and are always in a state of imperfection.
I have digressed a little there so let me bring it all back into perspective. We are too quick to assume others ( like clergy and laity who are quite vocal about their faith ) to be somehow perfect. We create for ourselves in our heads a high stool and we place them there, when they fall from this high place we have enthroned them on we become upset as if we ourselves our saints already.
Another thing to take note of, how many of us are always looking to change the church, reshape others to be better, making expectations of many, give others a scolding but we NEVER look at ourselves? we never seem to listen to the mantra ” change the world by changing me”. I think we should always begin with ourselves first. It is the change in us that is needed, then I think our admonition of brothers and sisters in the faith will be much more fruitful. We need to stop looking for saintly men in the church and become saintly men ourselves. We need to stop being enslaved to the ambition that everyone should be a saint and love us and become a slave and be ambitious to loving everyone we meet especially at the time of great distress and when the fall.
I love that simple saying, ” The Church is not a five star hotel for the perfect, it is a hospital for sinners.”
The faithful need to help one another, not seek to be helped by one another. Because when we are always looking for help by others, for others to be perfect and saints, we forget to help others and become saints in the process ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, its nice to be helped by another and when we need help to seek it, but when we become upset at others for failing to live up to that expectation of helping us out, when we become enslaved to looking to others for help and not reaching out to them ourselves, or only helping those who help us, then we have become a problem.
Another point of clarification, there is nothing wrong with being displeased with the action of another and admonishing them for it, but we need to acknowledge that in the process of doing this that we are great sinners too, in fact greater sinners than those we admonish, constantly reminding ourselves that we have fallen many times also and its something we should be mindful of and if we can do all of this I think our spiritual lives will become much more healthier. Don’t get me wrong, the focus on evil actions of others is important whether in the church or outside of it but when we have a healthy obsession with only focusing on the negatives in others and in the church affairs, we often miss the negatives in ourselves and we can become bitter and very sad Christians with little or no joy of the Holy Spirit at all.
So I say, let’s stop being displeased with others and being more displeased with ourselves. Stop going to church and looking for saintly men, always expect the worst and try and become saints ourselves. To love others is better than to be loved by them. To help others and encourage them when they fall is better than to have them encourage us and help us when we fall. To love them is better than to be upset when they don’t reciprocate. To help others is better even when they don’t return the favour. To always expect the worst even in ourselves and our own endeavours. I think if we do this then we will by His Grace be ready for anything, always prepared to love and admonish with patience and kindness, ever ready to be a slave to love and freedom and total selflessness.
By the way, if you have come to this blog looking for a Holy Man, I’ve got bad news for you …..;-)
Glory be to the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto the ages of ages, Amen.