It’s Easy to Walk Away From Christianity But Do You Truly Know What You are Leaving? I didn’t
I once heard a story of a father who gave his son a graduation gift. The father was wealthy and so the son expected to be wowed as he was completing his life’s greatest milestone thus far. The son however, was horrified when he opened his gift only to see a bible. A bible. Out of everything he could have been given, the father gave the son a bible. Consumed with anger, the son took the book and never spoke to his father again.
Years later, after the hurt and resentment dulled, the son found himself going through his old things. He came across the bible and the painful memory flashed across his mind. He opened it and inside the flap was a check big enough to buy a brand new car.
The father had given the son an extravagant gift and yet the son threw it away because he didn’t know it was there. He never received the car. He lived his life not knowing the value of what he had received, the experience of receiving it or the goodness of his father who loved him.
This was almost my story. I was 24 and I walked out of mass in tears. I knew I couldn’t stay Catholic. I had grown up in a Catholic family, went mass every Sunday, prayed rosaries on road trips and attended twelve years of what I would call better than average Catholic schools. I had spent so much of my life learning the culture of Catholicism without ever learning the deep truth of the gospel. I never learned what it meant to be saved by Jesus Christ. I never learned why my faith was rational.
Can you relate?
My guess is that if you were one of the 70 million American’s raised in a Catholic home, you can relate.
What does it mean to be Catholic anyway?
Sadly, this is the majority of our stories.
Like the son in the story, we often receive the gift of our faith in the form of rules and rituals. We are taught about the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as if they are newer forms of old mythology. By the example of previous generations, we learned that faith is for Sunday, not to interfere with the rest of our lives. We are reared into a culture without ever being made aware of its meaning, it’s depth or its fullness.
We perceive that we are receiving a trinket and then our elders wonder why we don’t treat it as a treasure.
Just as I was about to walk away from my faith, I felt a tugging back. Atheism didn’t make rational sense to me but I didn’t know why the church held half of its beliefs. So I started researching. Day after day I found myself in awe and wonder as I found the answers to my questions. I could not believe I had never learned what I was learning. I couldn’t believe that the Catholic church wasn’t just trying to be unpopular but that the reasons behind the rules actually made a ton of sense if only I had the nerve to ask the question.
My friends, the most glorious, most scandalous, most challenging story ever told is the one of God created man, man giving God the finger and then God becoming a human, entering into our world and allowing himself to be killed by us to save us. He proved that perfect goodness could be lived and in doing so he defeated death itself. THAT’S RIGHT, He defeated Death! The most terrifying thing about it is all true.
I was shocked when I realized that there is evidence for the existence God in the form of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as well as the devil and his minions. I learned that there are rational explanations for faith and that the stories of Christianity turning bad men into heroes are endless. But most of all, I was simply amazed to learn that I could see the world through the eyes and the mind of God.
I finally accepted that if God is real, He is the center of everything, He made everything. It isn’t just true for me; it is true. It is unsearchable, infinite; the most precious thing that exists. The trinket that I almost threw away is the most amazing treasure that I could ever find.
This is why I am beginning this journey with Inheritance. We cannot receive an inheritance that we don’t know we have. The main two stories that I hear in ministry go something like this:
1. I am 75 and I finally know what it means to be a Catholic. I wish I had learned years ago.
2. I’m Catholic, I went to a Catholic school and I am no longer practicing
It doesn’t have to be this way. There are answers to our questions. We don’t have to wait until we have lived our whole lives to find Jesus and His Church. We don’t have to find the gospel elsewhere. It is here, it has always been here.
St Paul says, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”
My hope for my new project is to tell the story of our faith in a way that illuminates this glorious inheritance. I am hoping to do Jesus a little bit of justice by telling His story in the way that He deserves.
Please walk with me and I continue to discover and rediscover these unsearchable riches. I hope they change your life the way they have changed mine. Check out the website www.mallory-smyth.com.