What If the Church Met Your Expectations?

It would be not be God's church

If the Church were the way you thought it should be, she would meet your expectations. That would mean that she would fit into the expectations and beliefs of the human Catholic or even non-Catholic or atheist. However, God makes it clear that His ways are not our ways. Therefore, our expectations cannot be matched by His ways.

Theologically, we all have our free choice. This enables us to love God freely or even reject Him freely.

Does the existence of the devil make any sense in a human way of thinking? I believe in the existence of the devil, however, if we were gods and created our own world, would we include the devil or even an angel’s ability to reject us and become the evil force that is the devil. No, of course not.

These are human understandings of God and He is beyond us. His world does not match our expectations because He is beyond us and His ways are not our ways. Just as His ways are not our ways, neither can we understand His ways with the same intelligence that understands our ways.

The Lord in the ten commandments gave us the rules that teach us not to steal, not to murder, not to slander and to honor him. Why do we need them in the first place? If God did not exist why is the human organized in a way that we need to learn not to steal, murder, etc. Why do human beings have the ability to destroy each other at all? What is there to explain it.

It all comes down to the ability to make a radical free choice that other species do not have. I interviewed Fr. Robert Spitzer, SJ for my publication on Medium: Writing from the Catholic Abbey to the Secular World. He pointed out in the interview based on his latest book Christ Versus Satan In Our Daily Lives (Ignatius 2020) that if we did not have the ability to choose radical evil, we would not have the choice to choose good. That is how much freedom God gave us. Our time is learning how to use that freedom.

The explanation for why the radical free choice is that we can choose to freely love or reject God, however, it does not matter the reason as much as that it exists. There really is such a thing as a radical free choice and each one of us has it for God or against Him.

This radical free choice endemic in all of us is what makes the Church the rust bucket she is. She is perfect in her form as the bride of Christ but humans are her crew each of which has a radical free choice to choose for her or against her, for Christ or against Him.

What is more, there are countless people who make these decisions in between—for Christ or against him. This causes problems in the Church. They are part of the vessel that God created for us to save us. They are part of the body of Christ which is made up of these humans. Nothing can change it. She can disappoint us when we expect her to be perfect but how can she be perfect if she is made up of imperfect people?. She can be perfect in her form but in her matter and accidents—terms we use in philosophy that explains her true reality and the appearances (accidents) under which we see her—she is quite filled with fallible human beings.

She does not meet our expectations and never will.

If you go searching for the perfect Church, you are looking for one that is perfect in your mind which means it will meet your expectations. Such a church would not be one that God founded because it would be guided by human expectations, not divine inspiration. The Church will always disappoint you until she reaches her destination which is the divine kingdom. The reason is that the church is filled with frail humans who are subject to temptation and sin. Many in the church work to submit every day to the authority of Christ. They grow closer and serve the Church well. Meanwhile, Christ may not agree with the Church per se but He clearly is aware that in the long run, she fulfills His purpose for her. She meets His expectations.

Probably the best example of this can be seen in Jesus’ attitudes toward the apostles. Constantly their behavior confronts Him and fills Him with disappointment. (“How long have I been with you and you still don’t understand?” He often says) Yet, it was these apostles He called to bring His message. He knew their frailty and even predicts Peter’s fall before the future pope knew he was so capable. Jesus never indicated that they did not meet His expectations.

Our current church does meet His expectations and He is calling all of us to meet higher expectations for Christ and for ourselves as we draw closer to Him. He is still in charge despite appearances to the contrary.

Photo by Chad Greiter on Unsplash