The other night I was about to doze off. (Usually Ellie and I watch a half an hour or so of TV before we nod off.) I was flipping around and stopped at an old movie called, The Keys of the Kingdom, with a very young Gregory Peck starring as a Catholic missionary in China. It seems that Father Chisholm (Peck) has some medical skills and heals the young son of a local Chinese land baron. To show his gratitude the land baron, Mr. Chia, offers to become a Catholic, which in turn would cause many of the people subject to his rule to become Catholics. Father Chisholm refuses the offer, ‘because that is not the way it works.’ Then what happened next I found quite disturbing. As he leaves, Mr. Chia says something to the effect that he understands the good Father’s rejection of his offer, because he is unworthy to be a Catholic. I immediately expected Peck’s character to correct him and use this opportunity as a teaching moment. But no, the Father is silent and allows the statement to stand. Well, I just saw the scene as another instance of the lack of understanding of exactly ‘how it does work.’ I know the movie is close to 70 years old, but I know for a fact, and have said it time before in this blog, that there are still multitudes of people who consider themselves ‘unworthy’ to have a relationship with God because of what they have done or have failed to do. The cold hard fact is that NONE OF US ARE WORTHY to commune with God. It is only through God’s good grace that we are all permitted access.
Then today, not two days after watching this scene (I fell asleep right after.) the homily was just that notion. God has gifted to us our salvation, our opportunity to commune with Him. He offers it to all of us. He gifts it to Father Chisholm and to Mr. Chia equally. It has nothing to do with worthiness. That, my friends is the KEY TO THE KINGDOM – understanding that there is no list of things to do. Not even a list of commandments to follow. Simply, ‘knock and it will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7) Allow God to come into your heart and cooperate with Him is how you get it. And once you allow God into your heart, allow His spirit to guide you, allow Him to create the being inside of you that was intended to be, nothing can keep you from Heaven. Nothing you have done, or will ever do. This is the Good News that Christians always talk about – or at least should be. We need to make sure that everyone we know understands this because it will draw countless millions to Christ. The change in mindset from, ‘I am not able to meet the standards of the church.’ to one of ‘I am invited by God Himself through the person of Jesus Christ to commune with Him.’ is nothing short of divine intervention into the lives of all those previously lost. It is like thinking you have been left off of the invitation list to the greatest party of all time, to being the guest of honor. So get happy! And start living like it!
‘The main thing we learn from a serious attempt to practise the Christian virtues is that we fail. If there was any idea that God had set us a sort of exam, and that we might get good marks by deserving them, that has to be wiped out. If there was any idea of a sort of bargain-any idea that we could perform our side of the contract and thus put God in our debts so that it was up to Him, in mere justice, to perform His side-that has to be wiped out…I think everyone who has some vague belief in God, until he becomes a Christian, has the idea of an exam, or of a bargain in his mind. The first result of real Christianity is to blow that idea into bits…’ C.S. Lewis – Mere Christianity