Thursday, June 07, 2007

My sin is not as bad as yours

I remember, a few years back during my Protestant days, being told that comparing my sins to those of someone else was pretty stupid. First of all, looking down on someone else because his sins are greater in number or kind is not conducive to having my sins be smaller in number or kind. The fact of my comparison kind of hurts the scale I was just using. Second, and more important, God is holy and when I sin I am not. That would be what you would call the real scale. Granted I am not a Protestant anymore, but as a Catholic, I must say, it still seems like common sense.

I am sure we can all agree that sin makes us stupid, but should we really be trying to win that contest? A Catholic apologist, whom I usually deeply respect, seems to be continuing his free-fall into the trap of comparison sinning. He seems to think that because others are even bigger jerks than he is that his (relatively) smaller lack of charity is a-ok. He seems to think that because being sarcastic or clever sometimes is helpful in getting a point across that it therefore should be used with reckless abandon. This isn't about him, but it is another reminder that what we are all called to is love. If you need a primer, see the thirteenth chapter of Saint Paul's first letter to the Corinthians and then look at a crucifix and recall that our Lord told us to love our enemies.

I know I am not the only one who fails in this area, but sometimes seeing it in others whom I respect is a wake up call. The line about reading 1 Corinthians 13 as a primer is not an attempt at facetiousness. Saint Paul wants us to know very specific things about love. Some are things we often forget or just flat out ignore. Love is kind. Love is not boastful. Love is not arrogant or rude. Love is not irritable. Love does not rejoice at wrong. Love bears all things.

Saint Peter tells us to always "be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls [us] to account for the hope that is in [us]." It is the mantra of the apologist and it should be of every Christian. Yet how many of us heed the following words, "yet do it with gentleness and reverence." How many of us point to our opponents behavior as justification for how we act when we should "keep [our] conscience clear, so that, when [we] are abused, those who revile [our] good behavior in Christ may be put to shame." Christ didn't call us to win by whatever means, he called us to love. "For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God's will, than for doing wrong." Jesus calls us to take up our cross and follow him.

It is easier to be a jerk in the hopes of being clever than to love your opponent. Unfortunately for those of us who choose the clever path, having been a jerk does not show up on the prerequisite list for heaven.

0 comment(s):

Post a Comment