How are you doing as a disciple of Jesus Christ?
Are you finding it really difficult in this day and time to live the joy-filled zeal of being a Christian?
This was becoming a problem for the early Church as well. In the vision our Lord gave to John that we have come to know as the Book of Revelation, Jesus addressed seven of them. To the Church in Ephesus whose disciples were struggling to keep their Christian faith in perilous times, our Lord says this,
“I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate the wicked; you have tested those who call themselves Apostles but are not, and discovered that they are impostors. Moreover, you have endurance and have suffered for my name, and you have not grown weary” (Rev 3:2-3) .
Finding Hope in Scripture
I have always found encouragement in these verses. Christ, our King, knows how difficult it is for us who desire to bring about his Kingdom. He knows we are trying really hard to be faithful amidst the evil in the world and the corruption in his church. Imagine our Lord sitting next to you right now. He puts his arms around you and says, “My dear friend and disciple . . . you have endurance and have suffered for my name, and you have not grown weary.” What a consolation! God sees me!
And then he says,
“Yet I hold this against you: you have lost the love you had at first” (Rev 3:4).
This may sound like a rebuke, for surely it is, but a rebuke by Jesus is never given to condemn or keep us down. When we are rebuked by God it is always to turn us back to him.
I Am Loved
We all have a story to tell of our first encounter with Jesus. Every circumstance, place, and time is unique to a person except for the one truth every soul who encounters Jesus experiences; the truth of being loved by God. This “I am loved” is the Love we had at first and it is Love Eternal.
The state of the world is indeed a concern, but this concern belongs solely to our King, Jesus Christ. He does not expect us to take on all the world’s evil and so we should not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by fear and despair. We stand firm in faith with our confidence in the truth that the battle against evil has been won through the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. God decides how much longer evil holds sway. Our job is to remind ourselves God loves us and to help all those who cross our paths to know God loves them too and has given us his Church to save us, heal us, and guide us into his Kingdom.
An Invitation From Rome
The early churches needed reminding of the love of God and so do we today. This is why Pope Francis is calling the worldwide Church to a gathering (synod) by asking every conference of bishops to gather their flocks and ask them their opinions, insights, and suggestions on how the Church should bring the love of God to all as we journey forward.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops just released the National Synthesis of the People of God in the United States of America for the Diocesan Phase of the 2021-2023 Synod. They report 700,000 of the 66.8 million Catholics in the United States participated. This synthesis is being sent to Rome to be combined with all the bishop conferences of the world.
One conclusion from this synthesis particularly struck me,
“People want the Church to be a home for the wounded and broken, not an institution for the perfect.”
I Am Loved Indeed
This statement forced me to realize I often forget how wounded and broken I was when I encountered Jesus. I remember how he called me by name as he lifted me up upon his shoulders, and returned me to Mother Church saying, “Nan I love you. You are exactly who I created you to be. I promise you will never feel alone again. I am with your always.”
I am so grateful to Pope Francis and to the openness of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for their efforts in reminding me of the great love I had at first and who is with me always. May every soul be so blessed and may every disciple of Jesus Christ do our part in helping our Lord find them!
Nan Balfour is a grateful Catholic whose greatest desire is to make our Lord Jesus more loved. She seeks to accomplish this through her vocation to womanhood, marriage, and motherhood, as a writer, Missionary of Hope, Prayer Intercessor, Speaker Team member, and Volunteer for Pilgrim Center of Hope.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.