GOP Presidential candidate Marco Rubio was in Des Moines, Iowa just before Thanksgiving where he was speaking to a group of pastors when they asked him about his faith. During the discussion Rubio confirmed that he was a practicing and committed Roman-Catholic… but he said that it was a Protestant church that taught him what the Gospel truly was.
I didn’t learn about the Catholic Church until I went to a non-Catholic church (Christ Fellowship) and became infused in the Bible and became infused in the written word of God and then, and only then did the liturgy of the church start even making sense. I am fully, theologically and doctrinally aligned with the Roman Catholic Church and we attend it. But we retain our relationship with Christ Fellowship and I’ll tell you why: because they preach from the same Bible.
Rubio went on to explain his perspective in the Gospel to the pastors and if they were anything like me, they were floored with Rubio’s clear, concise and beautiful explanation.
As far my relationship with Jesus Christ the best way I’ve been able to describe it to people that are not believers is God became a man, came down to earth and died for our sins. He provided the ultimate sacrifice because up to that point we lived under the law and the law meant that we had to sacrifice an unblemished lamb to cover our sins, not erase them.
God was the ultimate sacrifice. It was His own son. In essence, He was willing to do what He didn’t ask Abraham to do, almost asked Abraham to do but at the last second spared Abraham that pain. God was willing to sacrifice His own son and just imagine how painful that was and He became a man and the reason that He had to become a man was not just the element of becoming a man and dying for our sins as the ultimate Pascal lamb that as a result didn’t cover our sins but completely erased them, but also because He’s a God that understands us.
He has felt everything we’ve ever felt. He has wept. He wept in pain because a friend that He loved died. He felt compassion for people. He probably had the flu or the cold. He felt pain in his flesh not just on his crucifixion but multiple times throughout His life. He was a human being in every way and yet He was free of sin. So, there is nothing that we’re going to be asked to do in life that He didn’t do himself.
One thing is to be a distant God that sits on a throne removed from the everyday suffering of man; another is to be a God-Man who actually lived as we lived, who felt all the pain and all the hurt and all the emotions and everything we’ve ever felt. Jesus had fear, not fear in an unbiblical way but He knew what was about to happen to him and He prayed that if it was possible could this cup pass?
How many times have we made that prayer? And obviously it wasn’t facing crucifixion. It could be like, ‘God, if I could get out of this ticket. I just got pulled over. If you can get me out of this ticket this one time, I won’t speed again.’ Well, imagine the fear of knowing you’re about to be scourged, nailed to a cross, hung naked, humiliated, spit upon, rejected by your friends. There is nothing that we will ever face that He did not face times infinite amount.
To me, that is the personal relationship. It’s a personal relationship with a God that knows anything we faced because He faced it more than we are able going to be able to face it. There is no fear, no emotion, no worry, no anxiety, no obstacle, no adversity that He didn’t face before we did, and in fact, much more so.
And so that’s how you have a personal faith and then it has to be infused by the Holy Spirit because the gift of the Holy Spirit is transformative. Peter was a deeply flawed man, impulsive, angry, given to judgment. God turned his weakness into his strength. Peter saw Jesus walk around and he dove at Him, lunged at Him because that’s how impulsive he was. They came to arrest Jesus in the garden, first thing he (Peter) did, pulls out the knife and cuts Malchus’ ear off. Impulsive. But once he was infused in the Spirit, that impulsiveness was used as a tool for God’s plan.
All the gifts that God had given him that at one time were a liability God turned into strength. And so that’s where the Spirit comes to play in our life. We are all gifted with different things, and they could very well be a weakness today, but God can turn that into strength. And so it’s not just about having a relationship with Jesus, it’s about allowing the Spirit to infuse you, to completely control you and guide you.
And the end result of all this is what in Catholicism, we have this thing in our liturgy ‘peace be with you.’ A lot of people think ‘peace’ means like, ‘peace’ (Rubio throws up the peace sign), like the hippie peace, or peace like no one’s shooting at each other, or peace like everything’s happy. That’s not peace.
True peace is it doesn’t matter what’s happening. The winds could be swirling and Jesus is asleep on the boat, not worried about a thing, that’s peace. The peace is in knowing that two things are going to happen anytime you face adversity: One is God is going to shield you from the adversity; he’s going to protect you from it. And the other is God’s going to make you go through the adversity, but He’s going to give you what you need to get through it.
And if you honestly believe that, and that’s hard to believe. You can’t force yourself to believe it. You have to pray for that. That is a gift. That is a fruit of the Spirit. If you honestly believe, if you truly become to have that, then you have this supernatural peace that can only come from the Spirit.
I know I’ve gone too long, now I sound like the preacher so let me close with this, I apologize, but I rarely get to talk about this at campaign events. The thing about that peace that’s so important is, I honestly believe, it was a major contributor to the growth of the early Church. The early Church grew in a pagan world, and despite the fact that everyone knew if you become a Christian, they feed you to lions; you know Nero set them on fire like torches. Terrible suffering. And yet people kept joining.
And I am convinced, this is not necessarily deeply biblical, but I am convinced, you may disagree with me, but I am convinced that one of the things that got so many pagans to become Christians is they looked at the Christians and said: ‘What is up with these people? They’re being fed to lions and they’re singing for joy. They’re being led to their death, and they’re happy. There’s something wrong with these people. I need to find out what’s going on with them. Why is that they have so much peace because we keep praying to our Gods, and we never have peace. What is it about these people?’
And when that peace is true in you, people want to know about you. They’re curious what is it about you? What does that person have because I want some of that, and that’s how you bring so many people to the faith. It really is.
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