Must I Choose Between God and the World?

Christ the King: King of Kings, Lord of Lords
We live in a relativistic world that believes that truth is relative and that each of us, individually, should respect the moral and theological choices of everyone else. It does seem counter-intuitive to me that there can be a Christianity reset and accommodation with the world that can embrace such a notion especially since choosing the Truth of Christ over the half-truths and lies of the world has always been a fundamental decision that each individual who has ever rejected the world and come to Christ had to wrestle with and then surrender or reject. It is a choice that is no different than the title of Cardinal Sarah’s book: God or Nothing which is a fundamental human choice.

The half-truths of this world I find much more harmful than the outright lies of this world. I say this, because the first is subtle and requires some amount of maturity to decipher but the second is an outright lie, usually so blatant and obvious, that even the uneducated can very often reject it with nothing other than common, natural sense which is instilled in everyone’s DNA. Though people would like to believe these lies and distortions of truth, there is still, to many individuals, something dreadfully wrong and lacking. It leaves one unsatisfied, unhappy and living a life where there is a void, a missing element, that can instill happiness and joy unbounded to the hearts of the individuals: “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until if finds its rest in thee.”

So we negotiate with the world and end up looking not much different than the world and hide from the world the True Christ, in His fullness. For we would rather disguise Christ, like a Trojan Horse, to fool the enemy and gain entry into the world rather than offering to people a clear choice. For the Kingdom of God is not a half-way house that allows us to ‘claim’ a composite form of Christianity which requires nothing of the ‘believer.’ There is no requirement to ‘fully surrender’ to Him and instead of being King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He is now your best buddy who does not judge you or require that you abide by His Commandments; a love without sacrifice, a belief without responsibilities. It is the equivalent of the old saying of ‘having one’s cake and eating it too.’

The calls for such a Christianity come from those who make the argument that the world rejects the teachings of the Church and sees its teachings as oppressive, overbearing and unwelcoming to the sinner. I would respond that the ‘the World’ is more ideological and less homogenized in its beliefs. Of course the present world culture teaches a false gospel and entices us with lies and false love for the individual. However, I am convinced that individuals who are seduced by this message are miserable in the very depths of their souls and are looking for a clear choice between the present culture and the supernatural reality that Christ delivered to mankind. Given this choice, when the Holy Spirit condemns them in the hollowness of their lives, they will make a choice, if there is a choice available to them. They have tired of being soothed and coddled, told that they are special in their own way when in their heart of hearts they know that this is a lie and that an alternative to this false love must exist somewhere if there is any Truth at all; a choice that is all but being lost in our mimicry of the pagan culture of self-love, self-esteem and their assurance that there are no changes that necessitate a change in the way we lead our lives. All is well and in fact if Christianity would only quit teaching about sin then perhaps Christianity would be more welcoming and acceptable to the minds and hearts of those who are thoroughly indoctrinated into the present culture of self absorption licentiousness without shame or conscience.

For 50 years we have moved in this direction and have found it not to be the ‘choice’ that people stuck in the malaise of a worldwide love-in are looking for. And the diocese’s that rejected taking this direction are flourishing. So we get the, to be expected, lectures that we simply haven’t been accommodating enough and loving enough to draw them to Christianity. In other words, if we do more of that which hasn’t worked so far, it is the fault of those who have not changed with the times that it is failing; though the statistics do not hold up to scrutiny. Perhaps we should change our doctrines themselves or make our moral truths into suggestions by using pastoral methods that defy the teachings themselves.

“Jesus Christ, yesterday, and today; and the same forever.” He has attracted followers who gave their lives for Him and for His Church for 2000 years; all drawn from the world. Do we have to dumb-down Christ or offer another Christ, more acceptable to the world, for our times? Or is Christ sufficient for us as He was from the beginning? You decide.


  1. I agree. People forget that Christianity requires conversion, every bit as much as St Paul so famously experienced it. I also think that deep down, people are searching for the love that only Christ can offer. If we don’t reflect this love (which is not the same as friendliness) we have nothing to offer those who are searching. To love others is to will their transformation in Christ – nothing less. Cardinal Sarah is right: the choice is the Trinitarian God – or nothing; there is no happy half-way house to make us feel comfortable. I have written myself a memo: to read the stories of Flannery O’Connor (a devout Catholic).; according to an article I read the other day, all her stories centre on that moment of choice, when we suddenly apprehend the true meaning behind the world, and go towards God or away from Him.

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    1. I know that from my own personal experience there is that moment that I was faced with a life-changing choice. It was both frightening (for it required a change of my entire life and entire way of thinking) and irresistable as one cannot deny Truth without denying life for what it is. A choice had to be made and the choice should be clear . . . not simply a decision to visit a church on Sunday and be enlisted on the roles as a member of some group . . . like joining a club. It is a radical change in life that alters everything that heretofore had been an obstacle to this new choice. It cost me friends and isolated me from many over the years but it was as necessary as breathing air.

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      1. It was the same for me. Although ostensibly a cradle Catholic I had more or less lapsed entirely by the time I was a young adult. Many years later I had an experience which radically changed my life and brought me back to God. Deo gratias.

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      1. Thank you Philip. I will do what I can. “Catholics being Catholics” – yes indeed.I recall our late parish priest telling a group of young Confirmandi years ago, “Go and show the world what it means to be a Catholic!” That command haunts me still, many years later.

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  2. It’s been good, thanks for the post, It’s very good and timely. I’ve had a good day spent in reflection and prayer. I went to my local Catholic high school’s graduate baccalaureate mass​ this evening. I am contemplating traveling to the neighbor city for 8am Latin Mass before I come back and participate in Corpus Christi procession in my town.

    It’s important when we choose God over the world, especially Catholics, that we do Catholics things. It should be a new motto. “Catholics being Catholics.”

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