Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 15, 1999
The path of following Jesus
Young speaker offers simple guide to living the Christian life
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
There is a simple solution to ending all the world's problems. The poverty, the violence, the apathy - all this and more could be abolished if everyone just heeded one simple bit of advice.
"People were made to be loved and things were made to be used," Matthew Kelly said. "But we love things and use people.
"If we reverse those two, we could solve a lot of problems in the world."
This is the way Kelly hopes people will start seeing the world, because "how we act in the world is how we see the world."
Kelly, a 25-year-old public speaker and author, spoke to a crowd of more than 700 people at St. Basil's Centre Nov. 5. The following day, he spoke at Ephphatha House north of Stony Plain.
The native Australian, now based in Ohio, has travelled throughout the world sharing his message of God.
"He's very inspiring," said Kara Elias, 18, a student at John Paul II Bible School. "He makes following God easy to understand. It just starts simply with love."
Following God, said Kelly, takes Christians from Point A, where they are now discovering their abilities and talents, to Point B, where they become perfectly what God intended them to be. The road to Point B is the core of Christian life.
But this road to becoming more like Christ has its list of misconceptions.
"Some think the essence of Christianity is the rules and regulations," Kelly said. "But the essence of Christianity is about changing, it's about becoming more like Jesus Christ."
"The things that move us along this path are worthy of our efforts," Kelly said. "Things that stop us waste our time."
We don't take the journey for God's sake, Kelly said. We take it for ours. We don't take the journey for God's happiness, we do it for ours.
"We don't do this because (God) has some egotistical need for us to fall on our knees and pray to him every Sunday," Kelly said. "He wants us to do this for ourselves."
Part of this journey, Kelly added, is using our personal freedom.
But it is not the freedom that permits us to do whatever we want, whenever we want, without anyone saying otherwise.
"This is the notion of freedom that is ruling the modern Western world," he said. "Freedom is not to do what we want. It is the strength of character to do what is right.
"We're constantly faced with decisions. It is the strength of character to choose the right path. Where does that strength come from? It comes from prayer."
There are things that keep us from taking those two giant steps to Point B - fear and addictions, be they drugs, alcohol and gambling or as simple a dependency as food or material wealth.
And then there is the disease of minimalism, Kelly said.
"It's when people say 'What is the least I can do and still keep my job. What is the least I can do and still get to heaven.'
"If you've studied anyone who's achieved anything in their lives, they have always had one question - 'What is the most I can do?'"
This Kelly added, is the question with the power to change lives.
"It's the answer, it's the cure to minimalism."
In the journey to being more like Christ, Kelly suggests prayer to overcome the fears, addiction and minimalist attitude. He also encourages weeding out the mayhem in our lives.
"Our lives, they're too busy, they're too noisy. Noise is the mouthpiece of the world, silence is the mouthpiece of God."
It is silence where people truly find themselves, said Kelly.
At 19, Kelly had what he called a mystical experience. Since then he has had hundreds of visitations from God and has travelled to share the message.
But it wasn't this initial experience that changed his life. Rather, it was God's invitation "to a class of silence."
Shortly after his first experience with God, he resolved to visit his church for 10 minutes every day. At first he just sat in the back pews staring around. Then he started planning his days to spend his 10 minutes at church. Then he started praying in those 10 minutes.
"That's when my life started changing," he said.
It's this daily communication with God, "to allow God to draw you near," that Kelly encourages.
"I believe that two of the missing components in our lives are silence and solitude," Kelly said. "When was the last time we were in silence?"
Cheryl Simoni, who travelled from Innisfail for the talk, hopes to take up Kelly's advice.
"We all have a call to change and we need to start now," Simoni said. "To hear a young person speak so passionately about (God), it's very inspiring."