Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Experience: How your witness of Christ is made firm

Preaching on 1 Corinthians 1:6- "even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed among you"- Origen (ca. 185-ca. 253) said:
Christ, we might say, is the chief witness, and while there are many who witness to Christ through their death, he is the first of the witnesses. This witness of Christ is firm among some, but among others it is not firm but wavers. For if a person's faith in what is attested is such that he can say, out of true inner conviction, I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor the other things, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord [Rom. 8:38-39], then the witness is firm in such a person. But if we are not like this, but waver according to the circumstances, the witness of Christ is not yet confirmed in us
Challenging words, maybe even words that provoke you, especially in a relativistic time when so many Christians, in an effort to be seen as hip and ironic, compete to see how much doubt and uncertainty they can have and still be considered believers. Sure, it's very important not to pretend to a certainty you don't have, but don't you want to know, I mean, really know?

What I take Origen to mean is that the way our witness of Christ is made firm is through experience, through the circumstances we face daily, especially those circumstances that afflict us, whether in matters large or small. This was summarized well by the Holy Father in his second Christmas Urbi et Orbi address: "Christ does not save us from our humanity, but through it; he does not save us from the world, but came into the world, so that through him the world might be saved" (John 3:17).

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