I did not copy the meme when I saw it, but I wish I had. It said something like, “Jesus did not come to condemn the world [John 3:17] … so it’s not likely he’s calling you to condemn it either.”
What picture comes to mind when you think of a “really zealous” Christian? Sadly, I tend to think of someone who is anti-abortion or anti-Trump, anti-woke or anti-something. In today’s American society, I seem to encounter far more people who are zealously against something (or someone) than those who are zealously for something. We are – myself included – so often quicker to condemn than to encourage.
The Rule of Benedict cautions against “a wicked zeal of bitterness” (RB 72). As Sister Joan Chittester comments, “Bitter zeal wraps us up in ourselves and makes us feel holy about it.” In contrast to such bitter zeal, Benedict calls his monks to “a good zeal,” following the admonition of Romans 12:10, “They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other.”*
Wouldn’t that be refreshing!
While looking for something else in some old journals, I found this note that I jotted down more than 20 years ago:
“What is the mission of the church? Isn’t it
to help one another draw closer to God,
so that we my be transformed by the living presence of Christ in our lives,
to become makers of peace, doers of justice, and people of compassion
in God’s struggling world?”
*Joan Chittester, OSB, The Rule of Benedict: Insights for the Ages (Crossroad, 1992), pp. 177-178.