The person or persons who write “Coffee With Jesus,” the popular webcomic, hit another one out of the ballpark (much like Casting Crowns, they’re pretty Catholic in their thought, even though they insist they’re non-denominational).
I “got saved” almost every week in sixth grade at “Chapel” at Thomas Sumter. Almost every week, some speaker or Christian rock group or something would come with often truly inspiring and sometimes superficial cheesy, “testimonies” (or performances, as the case may be) and finish by saying, “Now, I want you all to bow your heads and give your life to Jesus,” and they would always have us recite the same words in unison, and my thought was always, “And these people would take issue with liturgical prayer. . . .”
Almost every week, that is, except the two times my dad, the school’s first Catholic teacher, had his turn (each week a different faculty member would plan the program for Chapel). The first time, he had Fr. Anthony Rigoli, OMI, come, and the second time, he had a panel of students, myself included, speak about treating each other with love and respect (and speaking against bullying). This was inspired by one of his students unwittingly writing a paper about me. She wrote of this thin boy in sixth grade with glasses who was always being picked on and never seemed to notice when everyone laughed at him in the halls (I did), knocked his books out of his hands (I thought I was just clumsy), etc., and yet always seemed happy.
Interestingly, our headmaster once made the same comment. He passed me in the hall and said, “That’s what I admire about you, John: you’re always smiling.”
I was honored that Mr. Owens, known for his very strict personality, took the time to say that–though at the time I was actually squinting. This gets to any interesting side note about body language, Asperger syndrome and Marfan syndrome, since a) I have a hard time understanding other people’s expressions, and b) people have a hard time understanding mine. Even after 14 years, Mary can’t read most of my expressions since they rarely indicate emotion and usually indicate some sort of pain, eye strain, trying to see, etc., though I do try to make a point of smiling.
Anyway, it’s interesting to me how people constantly want to engage in “institutional reform” of things that are just human nature. As Joe Sobran put it regarding attempts to legislate against “hate,” “some people are just jerks.” The Reformation supposedly started about “sale of indulgences” and yet many Protestant denominations require their members to tithe. They criticize Catholics who seem to live a superficial religion but aren’t “Christians,” and yet so many Protestants seem to live the same way.
Salvation is always a process. The greatest Saints refused to say they had achieved spiritual perfection, even if they had. The only times in the Bible when Jesus makes definitive statements about people’s salvation are a) to Dismas on the Cross and b) to Zacchaeus at his house, when Zacchaeus promises to give just about everything away (and even then He doesn’t say “You are saved,” just “salvation has come to this house,” which is still an indication of process).
“Work out your salvation in fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).