Jesus accepts us as we are — but does he leave us that way?

Not long ago I came across a blogger who wrote that he didn’t agree with the Church’s moral teachings, but he was going to stick with the Church anyway. He was raised in the Church, and why should he be the one to leave, just because others in the Church have hateful attitudes? Besides, Jesus accepted people as they were. I commented that Jesus accepted people as they were, but for the purpose of bringing them to repentance.

I was reminded of this exchange this past Sunday, when the Epistle for the traditional Latin Mass was Romans 6:3-11:

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For he who has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

Does this not preclude the notion that Jesus accepts us as we are? Maybe he accepts us as we are initially. As he said, he came to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance. It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. (Mk. 2:17.) But once we sinners are called, what then? Will he not heal us of our sickness?

According to this reading, baptism, the very sacrament of initiation into the Church, entails leaving our sinful past behind. Indeed it’s even more than that: Our old self is crucified, the sinful body is destroyed, that we may no longer be enslaved to sin. Strong language! Becoming a Christian means no less than dying to sin once for all, that we might live to God in Christ Jesus. This “newness of life” is what saves us and enables us to live eternally.

Can one call himself a follower of Jesus, who has not died to sin that he might live to God in Christ Jesus? Is this not essential to being a Christian? Is there a Plan B for those who don’t wish to take their Christianity so far as all that?

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3 thoughts on “Jesus accepts us as we are — but does he leave us that way?

  1. > Does this not preclude the notion that Jesus accepts us as we are? Maybe he accepts us as we are initially. As he said, he came to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance. It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. (Mk. 2:17.) But once we sinners are called, what then? Will he not heal us of our sickness?

    All of us are called (to hear the message), but few are chosen (able to fully accept it).

    > Can one call himself a follower of Jesus, who has not died to sin that he might live to God in Christ Jesus?

    I would answer yes (because I do follow Jesus, but do not believe in many of the teachings of the Church), but I do believe one must become righteous to be worthy of entering the kingdom of heaven. If you don’t believe that, I don’t see how you can consider yourself a follower of Jesus.

    > Is this not essential to being a Christian?

    I would say that accepting the Nicene Creed is probably the essential difference between being a Christian and merely being a follower of Jesus (in the sense that a lot of deists are, and Muslims as well).

    > Is there a Plan B for those who don’t wish to take their Christianity so far as all that?

    Christianity *is* plan B. Plan A is following the Mitzvot (Judaism). Plan C is following Mohammed (Islam). Plan D is following Joseph Smith (LDS). If your open to pantheism, a few more paths open to you. The question is, by saying “is there a plan B”, are you saying that Christianity (in any of the myriad forms it takes) a completely valid path? If so, where is the kingdom of heaven? Are you saying that your exact sect of Christianity is the only complete and valid path? How likely is that, since no flavor of Christianity conforms to the actual teachings of Jesus, and almost all are either fundamentalist, and therefore provably wrong, or are constantly evolving their truth?

    I think plan A is still a work in progress. Jesus could see the path, and left a lot of clues for us, some of which were recorded faithfully, others mangled by the men who followed him, and others likely lost. Maybe we are close to knowing the way, but looking at the world around us, it is hard to see. But then again, no one knows the day in which the kingdom will finally come.

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  2. Jim:

    I only quoted scripture to the effect that being baptized into Christ necessarily involves abandoning sin. Becoming a Christian is called “conversion” for a reason. It’s not merely converting to belief, but also to new life.

    God bless.

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    • Agellius:

      You ask some interesting questions. They are all touching on aspects of the ultimate question: “what is the truth?”. I think it lies somewhere between absolute fundamentalism, a position that relegates one to the fringe of flat earth moon landing deniers, and complete nihilism, an equally untenable position in my opinion. I am happy to say that I don’t have the answers.

      While I don’t think we will ever *know* whether Jesus was indeed the Son of God (it is a matter of faith, not knowledge), I do know that he had insight into how to live a moral and meaningful life, and that it is as needed today as it was in his time. Atheists will tar and feather anyone who challenges their *infidelitatis* as unreasonable, yet going from “I don’t know” to “it is untrue” is an illogical leap that they refuse to admit.

      Sincere thanks for the discussion,
      Jim

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