Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7
I am writing this column from my parents’ log house in rural Michigan. Yesterday our Airedale Bruno and I drove 12 hours to get here. Half the time I listened to the news on Minnesota and Wisconsin Public Radio.
Public radio is in frustrating entity for me, and this long drive was no exception. On one hand, they interviewed interesting people about compelling topics and told wonderful stories that kept me awake and alert all morning and into the afternoon. On the other hand, nearly every story was presented with a left-leaning worldliness and a persistent godless optimism, as though this past year (and the previous three) were truly unprecedented and hellish, but now the right people with the right ideas, wielding power in the right way, can finally fix everything. Nearly all of the interviews were political, some were explicitly pagan—and none mentioned God in any meaningful way, except to reference the road not taken.
This is the divide that concerns me in our society. This is the fundamental, irreconcilable issue upon which there can be no compromise: Either God is real and created the universe and humanity according to His law and purpose, or He didn’t. Both views have profound implications on how we live together in this world.
As a believer in the former view, I also have a job to do: Strive for heaven and bring as many people with me as I can. The mission to evangelize is not limited to like-minded Christians and other low-hanging fruit, but includes agnostics and atheists, even enemies of the Church. And, in keeping with God’s own Word, I should expect to be persecuted and suffer for my beliefs.
On the other hand, I also have the luxury of certainty. I have been blessed with the theological gifts:
- of faith, built upon the authority of God’s own revelation and 2,000 years of steadfast proclamation;
- of hope, rooted in our God-given reason, that He who ordered the universe for our good has a plan and purpose for our lives and will not abandon us to the Enemy;
- and of love—true love—imaging the self-sacrificing, life-giving love of the Trinity, that chooses the good at whatever cost.
I know what I’m here for, and while I’m not always good at it, I know what I must do. No elected official or policy decision, no scientific or technological breakthrough, no law—just or unjust—can change that. And by seeking to do God’s will daily, in small ways and in humble obedience, I train myself to obedience when the bigger persecutions come.
So while I take no pleasure in the latest turnings of the world, away from God and toward its own stony image, I am at peace. Stay single-minded on the mission the Good News of God’s love and mercy, and rejoice: These are saint-making times!
Note: This post appeared in the Sunday, February 7, edition of the bulletins for St. Michael and St. Albert parishes.