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What's Missing



This image showed up on my Facebook news feed because a friend had left a comment on the site that posted it. There is really nothing objectionable in it so why does it feel like something is missing?

After pondering this for a bit I realized that what is missing is Christ. This is all about us--what we will do--what we will accomplish. Nowhere does it say we are dependent on God. Nowhere does it say He is in charge. Jesus is spoken of as an historical figure who said some good things, but nowhere does it mention our fallen nature and His great mercy and love. Where is Jesus in our current world? Nowhere does this mention the Cross.

My question is, other than the mention of a Bible verse, what makes this statement any different than the local Rotary club, or the Kiwanis or the Junior League or any other secular service organization? As Christians we are more than just a social service organization. Pope Benedict XVI addressed this difference in Deus Caritas Est:

The increase in diversified organizations engaged in meeting various human needs is ultimately due to the fact that the command of love of neighbour is inscribed by the Creator in man's very nature. It is also a result of the presence of Christianity in the world, since Christianity constantly revives and acts out this imperative, so often profoundly obscured in the course of time. The reform of paganism attempted by the emperor Julian the Apostate is only an initial example of this effect; here we see how the power of Christianity spread well beyond the frontiers of the Christian faith. For this reason, it is very important that the Church's charitable activity maintains all of its splendour and does not become just another form of social assistance.
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Individuals who care for those in need must first be professionally competent: they should be properly trained in what to do and how to do it, and committed to continuing care. Yet, while professional competence is a primary, fundamental requirement, it is not of itself sufficient. We are dealing with human beings, and human beings always need something more than technically proper care. They need humanity. They need heartfelt concern. Those who work for the Church's charitable organizations must be distinguished by the fact that they do not merely meet the needs of the moment, but they dedicate themselves to others with heartfelt concern, enabling them to experience the richness of their humanity. Consequently, in addition to their necessary professional training, these charity workers need a “formation of the heart”: they need to be led to that encounter with God in Christ which awakens their love and opens their spirits to others. As a result, love of neighbour will no longer be for them a commandment imposed, so to speak, from without, but a consequence deriving from their faith, a faith which becomes active through love (cf. Gal 5:6).
A true Christian understands that "Love of neighbor" does not stand alone. It begins with "Love of God". 
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Christianity begins with understanding the Cross and Christ's total self-giving for our salvation.  St. James explained, faith without works is dead. But our good works alone are not enough. We are saved by God's grace. We can never equal his goodness. We stand in solidarity with all mankind as children of God. However, while we are called to love our neighbor, we are not called to tolerate and condone everything our neighbor does. Out of love and mercy, we must counsel sinners and instruct the ignorant. There is no love in allowing others to persist in sin. It is not judgmental to call what is good--"good" and what is evil --"evil".

So this statement about what it means to be a Progressive Christian sounds fine at first blush, it is actually quite deficient. One cannot be a Christian without Christ. Not just the historical Jesus with His words of wisdom--but the very real present Jesus who calls each of us to be more than just "good". He calls each of us to be holy. He calls each of us to be a saint.





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