Tag Archive: What it means to be a Christian

friend def

What makes a friend… a friend? What is a friend? Think of the people who you call, “your friends”. What is it that makes you care about them? Makes you smile? Makes you feel that warm glow inside, when you think about them? Or maybe the better question is, “Do you really care about them?” Very often, too often, the people who we call our friends are people that entertain us, do for us, treat us very kindly, actually, treat us better than other people do.

The dictionary defines the word “friend” as a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard. Affection: love and respect. Regard: care for and concern about. Friendship says nothing about what this person does for me. The friendship is not caused by, nor based on, the “glow that we feel”; but rather, the result of the friendship causes that “glow that we feel”. It is NOT … “what’s in it for me”.

So now, we get to the root of this discussion. What are you willing to do for your friends? If they have egg on their face, will you tell them? If they are living a lie, will you tell them? If their moral values are all screwed up, will you point that out to them? In short, are you willing to tell them the truth? Or, do you talk to them cautiously, so as not to offend them? Do you look the other way, when they say or do something that strays from the truth? There are a lot of questions here, and ALL of them deserve an answer, by each of us.

You see, our value system comes into play when dealing with our friends. It is very easy to throw out the statement, “It’s none of my business”, or “What he/she does is their decision”. If that is how we choose to respond to these questions, then holding a person as OUR friend is not very meaningful, nor beneficial to that person. If it is none of your business, then your friend is not very important to you. You don’t really care about them. (Care, didn’t we see that somewhere in the definition of friend?)

To be a friend to someone else brings our entire value system into play. What do we believe? What principles do we hold sacred and thus we will never give up on? We want them to always be inviolate, unblemished, spotless, and incorruptible. How strongly do we feel about these principles? What do we value? What do they mean to us? Do we simply want to be pleased by others, or do we want to be a true friend to someone else? More questions, but these are critical to knowing ourselves and thus our fellow man and ultimately our God. To be a true friend implies sharing our value system. “I will not now call you servants: for the servant does not know what his lord does. But I have called you friends: because all things whatsoever I have heard of my Father, I have made known to you.” -1 Jesus shares with us, ALL that He holds dear. He lets us see and receive His value system. He loves us and the most important thing is the sharing of the truth. So should it be with us. If our value system means something to us, then we should want to share this with our “friends”.

Christianity is not something that we tuck into our pocket, and pull it out when we are alone, or kneeling in church. It is to be lived 24-7. We are not preaching to others. We are simply sharing our likes, our values with all who we meet. “But”, you say, “They may stop liking me”. Then, two more questions need to be asked. “If your value system, if what you hold most sacred, presents an obstacle to your friend and they end the friendship, ‘What were their expectations from this friendship?” And, secondly, “If the end of this friendship is too much for you to bear, then “How strong are your beliefs in this value system called Christianity?”

It is our fondest wish that these questions asked today, will prompt many, many more questions in the days throughout your lifetime. Christianity is not an instinctive instruction. It is not a “one and done” deal with God. Rather, it is a continual growth, a relationship that flourishes between us and our God. And that relationship, as it grows, as it becomes more and more a part of us, will of necessity spill over and touch our friends, for whom we care and have regard. Our friendships with others will be based not on what we receive but on what we can offer.

1-John 15:15


Christ Works Through Us

In my last entry, “People and Me”, I mentioned Christ’s words, “I am the Way”. These words are the key to all of our Christian belief. We hold Jesus as not only our model, our example, but the way we are to live. We are to believe this so deeply, so intimately that His thoughts are our thoughts, His concerns, His love, His passion for people are to become ours.

In today’s Gospel, at the very outset we hear the 72 disciples exclaim with joy, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name.” -1 Jesus goes on to caution them to not rejoice in this fact, but just rejoice that their names are written in heaven. These 72 were no different than you or I. They did not instantly become angelic or saintly. However, they did believe totally in Jesus. And their belief spurred them into actions at which they, themselves, were amazed. They believed as the proverbial mustard seed, and mountains of people were moved.

They believed in Jesus. They believed with their entire being. Their lives reflected their belief. We know the story of Jesus. We know the events in His life. We know the wonders that He did, the sufferings that He endured. We know of His Resurrection. All that information that we have in our mind, must find its way into our heart. It must move us, shape us, and guide us. The truth will set us free. Our belief, our total belief in Jesus, will be the driving force in our lives. Not just on Sunday or when we go to Mass, but throughout our daily life we will be guided by our love for Christ, our love for our God.

The Apostles and the 72 were the first ones to recognize the importance, the impact of Jesus in their lives. They themselves, like us, cannot do anything except through Jesus. Or said in a more direct way, total belief in Jesus, and all that it entails, enables Him to work through us. This is very easy to type, to read, to say but to live that total belief will consume us.

Our lives will change, must change. We can’t just read this or say it and then say, “Ok, now where was I?” It’s like a two by four hitting us, awakening us. Do I take my belief in Jesus outside, when I leave my home? The first person I meet, regardless who he or she is, will I treat them as I would Jesus? Am I really concerned about people, or just the appearance of being concerned? These are questions that take on different meanings when asked through our belief. This is not saying that our goal is to be nice or good to people. No, this is saying that our belief in Jesus, in His way, will automatically drive us to being nice or good to people. The being nice is not an end in itself, but rather a beginning.

Why is this just a beginning? It is the start, because through the genuine love, and concern that Jesus has for mankind, and that we strive for, Jesus can and will work through us. This is not something to which we can aspire. We can’t say, “Ok, Jesus, use me”. But, we can believe so totally, we can love so completely that we are willing to be used. The danger will always exist that this becomes an end in itself. That is where pride takes over. I… I… I. This is why it is so important to remember Christ’s words that He is the Way. For it is that Way, that will change us.

1- Luke 10, 17-24