This country is predominantly Christian, but one glaring problem is that most of us are lukewarm, so we are ineffective, like salt that has lost its flavor, fit for nothing but to be trampled under foot. The Lord tells a church in Revelation 3:15-17:
“I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’ You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
This morning I read a good article by John Clark about how to be a Christian in this anti-Christian modern world. He calls it the “St. Therese Option”–to be a saint in full. It is a good, short article that is worth reading. After reading it, I wondered, what is stopping me from choosing to be a “saint in full?” Because that is the thing stopping us, after all–that we do not will it. I think St. Therese had it right–she told God that she was not afraid to suffer for him, that she wanted all that God willed for her. It turned out that he did will her to suffer an early and painful death. But look what God did with her gift of self to him–she is one of the most beloved saints of the Church and a great example and inspiration to us even now.
I don’t want to suffer. I don’t want to bear hardships. But we all know that if you are to accomplish something in life, there will be sacrifices required, and many of us muster up the discipline to do the necessary work to achieve worldly success, like college degrees and working our way up the totem pole at work. However, when God asks us to discipline ourselves and sacrifice for an eternal, heavenly purpose, most times we just half-heartedly do what we can easily squeeze into our already bursting schedules or give what our wallets can easily spare. Why?
For St. Therese, God was very real to her. She was devoted to him like a newlywed groom is to his bride–she wanted to give him everything and please him. She was pleased when she had to endure suffering, and sometimes she would purposely deprive herself of little things as a gift she could give to Jesus. She was not lukewarm, but had a burning love for God. How can we be more like her? How do you grow to love God more intensely so that you would will all that God wills for you, even if that means suffering?
How does love grow in the natural world? We love our children when they are born, but over the course of a lifetime, we get to know them more and see them more clearly, and the more we know, the more intensely we love them. You marry a person and already love them, but as you go through life, share experiences and learn more about who they are, you have more reasons to love them. As you spend time with God and share your experiences with him, the more you get to know him and the more there is to love. I suppose that is why Heaven is so great–we will spend more time with God getting to know more and more about an infinitely Good, True, and Beautiful Being and we love him more and more intensely, because, how can you not?
Maybe my/our problem is that we are not spending enough time with God. Perhaps if we could live with the recollection that God is always present, guiding and loving us, we would love and trust him more intensely, and then we could happily choose, like St. Therese did, to be “saints in full”. What would happen if there a few more full saints on the loose? Look what a handfull of unlearned men, full of the Holy Spirit and love of God did 2,000 years ago… Maybe that is what God has in mind again for our time.
Let us recommit ourselves to an ongoing walk with God–let us look for him, listen for him, talk to him throughout our days. What a privilege it is to be a Christian–God Himself dwells within the temple of our hearts! Let us never make light of or take for granted this great Grace.
Some helpful books pertaining to this post:
St. Therese, pray for us!