Remain in Me

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you.”  Jesus

As a student attending Moody Bible Institute back in 1971, I had heard things that I carried with me up until just a few years ago:  A Personal Evangelism teacher, Mr. W., taught us that among the cults stood the Catholic Church.  The’70s was a time when Biblical inerrancy claims and cult exposure was at a height.  The Jesus People movement had forced the gospel out into the open, onto the street level where it mingled with drug addicts, hippies and street people.  I was there in the sixties to witness this and to later hear Mr. W’s rants about Catholicism.

 At Moody, for one hour each Tuesday and Thursday, Mr. W. would ‘expose’ the cults and brandish Catholicism as far from the truth.  Among fellow students, teachers and parents, the message often became “We Bible backers are on the right track.  We have the truth.  We do not have the relics of Catholicism; we are modern, progressive and Protestant.  We are free ‘churchers’.  We know better.” Contempt for the Catholic Church and it teachings about Mary, transubstantiation, the saints, etc. was common among my among many Free Church people at the time.  I heard many sermons elevating the Free Church and the Bible Church above the Catholic Church. 

 The following year at Moody Mr. W. was gone.  It may have been that the school’s board decided the Mr. W went too far in his denunciation of the Catholic Church.  But, sadly, the damage had been done to many students who had heard him teach. They walked away with an ‘enlightened attitude’ towards the Catholic Church.  The Catholics would need the Truth as they knew it ‘should’ be.

 This ingrained belligerent attitude was heard the other day, December 28 th, 2009, on the train from Chicago to Wheaton. I was sitting with a woman friend talking about Christmas.  She was showing me her family Christmas pictures on her laptop. While we were talking, a young man that my friend knew sat in front of us.  Half turned, he sat speaking with us through out the hour long ride.  At one point he related a story about his neighbor two houses over.  With a snarl he called them the “Evangelical Christian neighbors.”  He met these neighbors on the sidewalk in front of an elderly couple’s house, the couple’s house situated between their houses  The young man said that these ‘Christian’ neighbors had done nothing to help the older couple.  In fact, the older couple called on him instead of asking for their help.  It was what the young man said next that sickened me:  “The Evangelical neighbors told me that they could help this elderly Catholic couple by getting them on the right track and making them Bible believing Christians.”  I was shocked and deeply saddened.  What I had heard at Moody some forty years earlier was replaying right in front of me:  the sad, sickening superiority of Baptist and Bible church believers towards others.  This type of contempt in these churches isn’t always so blatant but it exists in the everyday language of evangelicalism, so much so that many people are defensive against the Gospel as promulgated by these ‘better-than-thou” Christians.

 I started attending an Anglican church a few years ago.  Throughout my life I have desired the Eucharist on a regular basis.  The Bible/Baptist Churches have sanctioned communion to a once-a-month gathering instead of as often as believers are together in one place. These same churches have also stated that communion is only a remembrance of the Lord’s death and nothing more.  The understanding is that this communion is the exact opposite of the communion offered by the Catholic Church or transubstantiation.  This, among other things, means you are Protestant.  The implication being that the Baptists/ Biblers are in a better, more knowledgeable place than the Catholics. You have left behind the archaic and apostate teachings of the Catholic Church.  You are smarter, more modern than …

 I made decision to abide in Christ a few years ago when I started attending the Anglican Church.  I wanted to go deeper with my life in Christ.  And, I didn’t want another romantic relationship to further confuse and block my efforts.  I wanted to know Christ and to be known by Him.  My understanding of the Eucharist brings me to that place.  The Eucharist, the Thanksgiving, the bread and wine, are the REAL food and drink of life, (not the actual physical body of the Lord but the REAL Presence of the Lord).  I meet the Lord each time I partake of the bread and wine.  That is why I am so eager to go to my church and partake in the Eucharist. This REAL Food and Drink has changed my life more than any education, more than the miles of aisle walking, more than any worship or praise song. I have become more REAL and at the same time less like the world.  I know now that Christ carries a sword and carries the lamb.  He is divisive and unifying.  The longer I walk with him and meet him at the Eucharist the more I become like Him.  The more I am able to speak to others in His voice.

 Lastly, you may remain in Christ or you may not.  You have that choice.

 “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.  For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.  Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.”  Jesus

© Sally Paradise, 2010, All Rights Reserved

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