THE DANGER OF A CHRISTIANITY WITHOUT THE CROSS
One of the greatest risks for Christianity today is to go about little by little passing from the «religion of the cross» to a «religion of well-being». A few years ago I took note of some words from Reinhold Niebuhr that made me think a lot. The North American theologian was talking about a «religion without thorn» that ends up preaching «a God without anger that leads some people without sin to a reign without judgement by means of a Christ without cross». The danger is real and we need to avoid it.
To insist in the unconditional love of a friendly God should never signify fabricating a God to our liking, the permissive God who legitimizes a «comfortable religion» (Johann Baptist Metz). To be Christian isn’t to seek a God that fits me and tells me «yes» to everything, without encountering a God who, precisely for being Friend, awakens responsibility in me, and for that very reason, more than once makes me suffer, cry out and shut up.
To discover the Gospel as a source of life and a stimulation to healthy growth doesn’t means living «vaccinated» from suffering. The Gospel isn’t a tranquilizer for a life organized to serve our fantasies of pleasure and well-being. Christ brings joy and suffering, consols and upsets, supports and contradicts. Only so is he the way, the truth and the life.
To believe in a Savior God who already right now and not waiting for the hereafter, seeks to free us from what causes us damage, shouldn’t lead us to understand the Christian faith as a religion of private usage at the exclusive service of our problems and sufferings. The God of Jesus Christ always puts us where we see the one who suffers. The Gospel isn’t centered on the person in one’s own suffering, but in the suffering of others. Only this way is the faith lived as an experience of salvation.
In faith as in love everything usually gets all mixed up: the trusting giving of self and the desire to possess, generosity and selfishness. That’s why we mustn’t erase from the Gospel those words of Jesus that, as hard as they may seem, place us before the truth of our faith: «Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me. Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it».
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf