A Reflection by Fr. John Abberton, July 20, 2007
“The real Christian is the one who is inwardly a Christian, and the real Unity is and will be in the heart; Unity will not be of the letter but of the spirit; –
if you love Me, daughter, as you say, embrace the Cross I have given you; your feet then will not stumble, nothing in this world is Its equal; let your gaze never leave My Gaze;
pupil? come, follow Me….” (Message from October 13 1991)
We might ask, since there is a debate going on about where the “True Church” can be found, who is a true Christian? The answer is given in the message quoted above. But what does this answer mean? Surely it does not mean that a Christian should be inactive or not show his or her faith by good deeds? No, that would contradict the Letter of St. James. We must practice what we preach. But these actions and words should be sincere; they should come from the heart. The “Real Christian” may not have a perfect understanding of what is meant by “Church” and may not understand all that is needed for the Church to be recognized as “True”. The “Real Christian” may not be able to speak fine words about the different books of the Bible and may not know the names of the major Christian thinkers and theologians of East or West. The “Real Christian” may not be able to debate theological points or quote chapter and verse of Holy Scripture. The “Real Christian” may feel ill-equipped to lead seminars, give talks on the Faith or write stirring spiritual essays. The “Real Christian” will see the need for study, but may be a poor student.
So, what is a “Real Christian?” Does being Catholic or Orthodox or Anglican or Evangelical – or anything else – make a person a “Real Christian”?
Can we try to see things as God sees them – not to be blasphemous or to claim a kind of sight that we cannot have , but to ask Him to clear our vision and to teach us how to see, to judge and to act. We know that God looks at the heart (as He said to the prophet Samuel when he looked at David). What does God see? What does He want to see? The answers are in the Holy Scriptures and in the messages of True Life in God. Those who have faith will know – without much searching – what God wants to see in us; our consciences tell us.
A man may be swathed in red, gold, ecclesiastical favours of every kind; he may be known far and wide as a great evangelical preacher – a “saver” of souls. Someone may be a great singer of spiritual songs or be a builder of churches. Another may know the Bible front to back and be able to quote almost anything, giving chapter and verse. What is a “Real Christian”? What kind of heart does God seek? We know the answers:
God is drawn to the “humble, contrite heart;” He requests a generous heart; He answers the believing heart; He heals the broken heart. Ultimately the “Real Christian” of our day is the one who has a broken heart – broken because it is open to others, pierced, as Christ’s Heart was pierced, by the sins and sufferings of humanity – broken because of the disunity of Christians and the crying need of souls to hear the Word of the Gospel. Today, the “Real Christian” has a heart like Christ – on fire with love for God and for souls, surrounded by the thorns of rejection, misunderstanding and compassion, but beating and alive with joy in the midst of sorrow, hope in the midst of suffering, faith in the darkness and love in a world that has become a desert. Do you know anyone like that? Are you like that?
Fr. John Abberton