Monday, May 02, 2005

Which Is It?

"We Don't Deserve Anything Good"

"The characters appearing on your screen were at some point generated by human fingers that were fearfully and wonderfully made by a marvelously working God who has made us in His image. Treating another human being in a contemptible way is an offense against God the Maker."

These two statements were both made by people who share the same ideology, the same theology. Both issue directly from the theology they espouse. One wonders if these adherents see the contradiction. How can the same being be at once fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God, and at the same time undeserving of anything good. Can you imagine telling your father who just gave you a gift that not only do you not deserve the gift, but that you deserve nothing good at all? Is this not the attitude of one who is clinically depressed?

After reading the first comment, my first reflection was on the parable of the prodigal son. We are that son. We have all been drowning in the mire of our sin, and remembered the goodness of our Heavenly Father, and so sought out his help. We have all realized that we didn't deserve forgiveness, yet hoped to be treated only like a servant. But, our Father has taught us the reality, that our actions can never quench His love for us. And more than that, the son accepted his father's welcome and took his place at his side because no matter what he had done, he was still the son.

To continue to assert that we deserve nothing good, is to slap the face of the savior who earned our redemption. It is to grasp false humility in the name of glorifying God. It is placing greater focus on the fall, than on the creation. It is ignoring that as Christians we are no longer that old man, but are a new creation. That fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God creation.

God has never gone so far as to say that we deserve nothing good. Existence is good. This is why we believe in Hell. Because, if we deserved nothing good, at the end of this life, those who are not saved would simply be annhilated.

What despair is Calvinism! Thanks be to God I am Catholic. I certainly have not deserved what I have been given, that is true, but I know through Christ's work that I will eventually deserve the prize that I have been given. Because He loves me.

If believing that man deserves nothing good is false humility, what then is proper humility? We know that Christ praised humility, for the humble will inherit the earth. It is wise that we should discover what this virtue is, so that we can cultivate this gift properly. The Catechism defines Humility as "the virtue by which a Christian acknowledges that God is the author of all good. Humility avoids inordinate ambition or pride, and provides the foundation for turning to God in prayer." Humility teaches us not to devalue ourselves, but to appreciate the gifts we have been given. Humility teaches us to place higher value on things of the next world than things of this world. A true humble spirit looks not for glory or honor or praise from his fellow man, but is concerned with preparing himself to receive those things in the next world. Humility is knowing that that is the purpose of the Holy Spirit being placed within each of us and allowing Him to work in us without obstruction.

This is a critical and important distinction, because otherwise, thinking so little of ourselves, we might also think so little of others. When we see someone fall on hard times, will we have compassion if we feel that they have only what they deserve? By understanding how God loves us and values us, we can in turn reflect His love and compassion upon our fellow man. And isn't THAT what being Christian is all about?


At 10:30 AM, Blogger st_ignatius110 said...

That indeed is beautiful. The one thing I really struggle with is treating those humans with kindness whom I have beleived wronged me. This is not right. We are love our enemies and bless those who curse us. We were born the enemy of God..and yet while we were still sinners Christ died for us! Should we not do just as much for our fellow beings? Everyone, no matter how large, small, hateful or kind, deserves to be treated with the dignity due the human creature. We have all been created in the very image of God and it is He whom we love, because He first loved us.

At 10:47 AM, Blogger Chad said...

Having once been an ardent Calvinist, this strikes a chord with me. I think that Calvinists are missing only one thing when you strip everything away: a sense of mystery. A Calvinist is unable to accept paradoxes or seemingly contradictory statements: he is always either/or. But Christianity is not a religion of either/or in many cases...

At 10:52 AM, Blogger BekahS. said...

Another thing I thought of this morning when pondering this during my morning prayer, is that Calvinists have somehow decided that worth is intrinsic. We are not worth anything good, because they are looking only at our intrinsic value. Instead, we must look at each other the way God looks at us. We are priceless, not because of who we are, but because God loves us! It is solely His love which gives us value! And that love is not restricted to only his chosen people. He loves each and every one of us, whether or not we ever return that love. So, rejecting our value is a rejection of God's love for man.


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