I've observed over decades of ministry people afraid to speak the truth in love for fear of turning people off. As a result, we have a couple generations of people turned off.
All who profess Jesus Christ, even as we fall short in living it, do not be "ashamed of the Gospel." (Rom. 1:16) Speak the truth in love "whether convenient or inconvenient." (2 Tim 4:2)
Imagine if this Sunday your pastor made clear our ultimate purpose in Jesus Christ alive in His Church:
(1) WHERE WE'RE DESTINED. Only saints are in heaven. If we desire heaven, we must become saints. That is our mark and measure. That is our ultimate purpose, in light of which every aspect of our earthly existence is measured. And not simply for ourselves, but for all to whom God has entrusted to us! Our life is not about a truth we can presume to create, but The Truth who created us!
(2) WHERE WE ARE. Each of us is far from the mark. What a grace that is to know! Let's take a bold look at our distance. Without excuses. Without compromise. At our rebellion. Our freely chosen attitudes and actions. Let's honestly consider where these are getting us! Let's recognize that the final determination of heaven or hell after death is being made now in life.
(3) HOW WE GET THERE. Let's recognize that this vast distance, between where we really are and where we're ultimately appointed and anointed to be, is precisely why the Church exists! It's why God breached the great divide and took on flesh, that we might attain heaven! This is the very purpose of instruction and sacramental grace! This is what ought to impel us to ever-greater surrender in and through the sacramental life of the Church!
(4) HOW WE TRACK PROGRESS. If week after week this real, tangible, personal landscape is not more clear for us, if we're not taking evident, concrete steps forward in holiness, in becoming saints, we're not only wasting our time, living a facade, playing a game-- we're part of a dead proclamation that Jesus Christ and His Church are powerless. Why bother?
(5) BEGIN. Today is the first day. God is the great "I Am." Our ordinary lives are His custom-designed retreat for ever-greater intimacy in Him. Who wants to embrace the ultimate mission? Who wants to journey week after week? Beginning today-- that's what we're going to be about. Expect to be challenged as well as encouraged! Expect to be surrounded by others seeking the same! Expect the horizon of eternity to open up! Who's in?
And if all this speaks to you, join us in seeking the same. If you're a priest, engage your communities in doing the same.