By Theresa Alt
Special to The Witness
MARION — “You are a child of God. You were made in the image and likeness of God. You are kind of a big deal.”
Internationally acclaimed speaker and author Chris Stefanick inspired and challenged an audience of 520 during the Reboot! Live! event at St. Joseph Church in Marion on Wednesday, April 6. Using a powerful blend of truth, humor and personal stories, Chris reminded those in attendance of their identity and purpose. We were created for God, who is love. When we use something for a different purpose than it was intended, it ends up broken. When we, who were created for God, live for something else, we become broken. That’s not the end of the story, though. The beautiful part of the story is found in John 3:16. God sent his Son into the world to fix our brokenness, so we could have the eternal life for which we were created.
Chris noted the dispute identified as “science vs. religion” is more accurately called “materialism vs. religion.” Materialism is the belief that the only place we can find truth is by looking at the physical world. According to a materialistic worldview, God must not exist because we can’t see or touch God. Stefanick gave several examples of how reason can lead us to believe in God’s existence, asserting that believing the universe occurred by random chance, without the action of a creator, is like believing that an explosion at a print shop could produce an unabridged dictionary.
Our first opportunity to learn who we are comes from experiencing the love of our parents. That love helps us to answer important questions: “Who am I? I am precious. What am I worth? I am worth dying for.” Chris reminded audience members that “God gave everything to you. That’s what he wants in return–everything.”
Father O’Connor, Pastor of St. Joseph Parish, opened the evening with prayer. Stefanick’s message was highlighted by music from recording artist Jon Niven.
Niven led the audience in praise of God with songs including “Open the Eyes of My Heart,” “Your Grace is Enough,” “Here I Am, Lord,” and “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow.” During a brief break, those in attendance were encouraged to interact with one another, peruse merchandise from Stefanick and Niven, and enjoy refreshments.
After the break, Chris focused on the practical application of the concepts presented during the first hour. He encouraged those in attendance to incorporate seven habits of holy people into their lives: 1. Love yourself, 2. Pray, 3. Live a pure life, 4. Develop community, 5. Forget yesterday, 6. Serve, 7. Share the Faith.
Chris proposed that we can only be open to the love of God if we first love ourselves. This love should be expressed in words, like “I’m beautiful. I’m blessed. I’m chosen. I’m worth dying for. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” It should also be expressed in actions. We must take care of our basic needs before we can effectively serve others.
Stefanick emphasized establishing a habit of prayer, including participating in Mass, reading Scripture and spending time in silence so we can hear God speaking to us.
Jesus spoke of the importance of living a pure life when he said “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8) In particular, Chris challenged the audience to avoid exposure to violence in the media, to move away from selfishness and greed, to speak the truth and to practice sexual purity.
Community is an important component of holiness. Stefanick recommended gathering at least monthly with a few close friends to hold one another accountable.
We are called to let go of yesterday and not allow the past to define us. Chris encouraged those who have been hurt to seek out the help of a good counselor to heal their wounds. Those whose lives seem to be defined by sins in their past were called to confess those sins in the sacrament of reconciliation—to “hit DELETE and move on.”
Stefanick noted that service is not just an activity that we do. It’s the mindset that my life is mine to give. We can cultivate that mindset by starting the day with the simple prayer “I will serve,” by focusing on serving the people around us and by serving the poor.
As Christians, we have the best news in all of history, and we need to share it. Chris called those in attendance to share their faith both through the witness of their lives and through the witness of their words.
The audience was engaged, encouraged and challenged by the music and message of Reboot! Live! Comments from individuals in attendance indicated they were impressed with Stefanick’s authenticity, inspired by the stories he shared of people living out their faith and appreciative of the practical suggestions he gave. The zeal inspired by such an event can fade quickly when people return to their busy lives. St. Joseph Parish has plans to build upon Stefanick’s message and encourage people as they strive to live out the seven habits of holiness.
Stefanick said “two-thirds of God’s name is ‘go’,” challenging those in attendance to take their faith with them and allow it to permeate every aspect of their lives, to “live the life you were made for.”