Right Where We Are Wrong


We have a modern snobbishness that has reduced religion to a personal preference. One huge problem with that is that once a religion becomes merely a product of your own personal preference, it’s no longer able to do what it is meant to do: Transform you. There is no use for it anymore other than to affirm what you already are. It becomes a useless, destructive exercise in self-gratification.

G.K. Chesterton said, “We do not really want a religion that is right where we are right. What we want is a religion that is right where we are wrong.”

Yet we spend all of our time focused on finding religion that is right where we are right. Sure, it’s self-gratifying. But it’s ultimately a waste of time.

Instead, find a religion that challenges you to grow. Find a religion that has proven itself a trusty guidepost for millennia. A religion you can push up against and test your rightness and your wrongness. Find a religion that makes you a little uncomfortable sometimes. That challenges you. That rubs you the wrong way as it smooths off your rough edges. That makes you feel it when you mess up. That sheds light on your darkness. That grounds you when you lose touch. That gives deep meaning and purpose to the hardest parts of your life. That brings strength to your weakness.

Find a religion that is right where you are wrong. It takes great courage and humility. But it’s the only religion worth finding.

9 comments Add comment

Joe Jordan May 4, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Very well said Matt! This combined with the “health & wealth” “gospel” preached at so many churches these days is a terribly destructive combination. We desperately need a re-evangelization of the faithful so that they can then evangelize the lost.

Michelle May 4, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Hi Matt,
I just found your blog a few weeks ago, and have really been enjoying it! I especially liked this post. It was very timely for me :)
I was talking with a Protestant friend today and I asked him if he’d ever thought about being Catholic. He said no, because when he goes to Catholic church he just “feels so…I can’t describe it.” I wanted to say, “Challenged by truth? Inspired by beauty? Afraid of what might happen if it’s true?” but I held my tongue (or fingers, rather…we were texting). Sometimes I hesitate to share with people how true and rich our faith is because I don’t want them to feel proselytized, but I think it’s important for them – and for me – to really know what it is we’re saying when we say, “We believe…”

Matthew Warner May 5, 2011 at 8:34 am

Thanks so much, Michelle! For the great comment and for reading the blog!

I know exactly how you feel. The biggest challenge is knowing how much to share and when to share it with people like your friend. You are wise to be sensitive to over-proselytizing…especially with our friends. I try to focus on loving my friends first and then being prepared to answer their questions or share the right thing when the Holy Spirit presents the opportunity. Too often we try to “force” those moments to happen unnaturally – which makes them much less effective and sometimes damaging. And of course, in the meantime, I have plenty of things I need to work on MYSELF to make sure I’m being the best example I can be.

Peace be with you!

Bill May 5, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Great post. Even we Catholics can be guilty of “shopping around” to find a church (small “c”) in which our hard-headed misconceptions or sinful behaviors are either not challenged or not even addressed. We don’t want to be wrong. Maybe more accurately, we don’t want to be reminded that we’re wrong. Humility allows us to admit that we don’t understand something and accept the fact that someone else (the Church – big “C”) does.

Allison Welch May 5, 2011 at 10:16 pm

LOVE IT! It made me feel so much better about the difficulties I face teaching morality to sophomores. It’s a challenging religion, and that is not a bad thing.

Brad May 9, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Very very well said. I heard mention somewhere about “church shopping”, and we have had conversations in our parish about parishioners leaving to go to another church because they do this or that. There is this sense by many that the religion must conform to them. That it must meet their needs. It really is a backwards way of thinking, but it really isn’t about what religion offers us BUT rather what we offer to it.

Charlene May 24, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Just wanted to tell you that I found your blog today and I’m so glad I did! God bless! :-)

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