We know that as Our Lord carried His Cross to Calvary, He stumbled; so too do we. What bliss there would be, I sometimes think, if we did not, if, after acknowledging Him Lord, we were truly transformed beings. What a witness we would then give; how much easier would it be for non-Christians to see Christ working in us and to think us an example to follow rather than one from which to flee. Then, none could point at us and say that if that is what Christians are like, they can’t be up to much; then no one could point at our Church and say that doesn’t look very pure or like the Bride of Christ; and no one would need any faith at all. Even when there are examples of such people, such as the marvellous Padre Pio, the world doubts and mocks; so what chance do the rest of us have?
But do we take the opportunities we are given to witness? I love the way Geoffrey manages to strike up casual conversations with people in queues or the tea shop and gets in some comments about the Faith, not least because it makes me wonder about the way in which so often we can end up confining our discussions of Christ to Sunday and to other believers. I’ve just finished helping with a catechetical class, and found it a marvellous experience, because it has been a license to talk freely about God and about Jesus without feeling that in some way I’d be embarrassing other people – and being British, of course I worry about that sort of thing, which is no doubt silly of me, but there it is.
It is one reason I care so much about how we treat each other here, as it is, for all of us here, a place where we can discuss out faith and find things out and share ideas, and the moment we start hurling the crockery, then the witness we give is questionable. I know some here believe that they have to say it like it is and call a heretic a heretic, but if others responded in the same vein, we would soon plummet to the depths of the Telegraph blogs – a fate far worse than death, because unlike death,it is neither swift nor short nor merciful. As a friend of mine used to say, if you want to be in the drunk tank, best get drunk first, it makes it bearable.
I am easily caricatured as one of those Christians who goes on a lot about ‘love’, and I don’t mind, because it is true. At the base of our faith is a love so powerful that it was willing to suffer and die for sinners, willing to be stripped of all dignity and of everything human – for me. So a little criticism on the internet is to be borne with good nature. We stumble because although saved, we are not yet with Him, and the old Adam, although dying, puts up a fight. This broken world is not a place where even jesus did not stumble under the heavy load, and as we struggle, we can at least not mock and jeer at our fellow strugglers.