Christianity is Jesus' way of life, relationship with God – Monitor

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People praying in a Catholic Church. PHOTO/FILEF
By  Msgr John Wynand Katende

Oftentimes we have witnessed situations where preachers are fighting each other, they strive to win by defeating and establishing superiority over colleagues, some become arrogant and judgmental towards each other. We have also seen church fights and those of preachers is getting many members in their churches but not closer to God. 
“Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and went away to follow Him.” (Mark 1:19-20).
For some people Christianity is a mere religion, like any other, for others it is one of the many ideologies, like capitalism or socialism. Ideology is described as a set of beliefs or philosophies attributed to a person or group of persons. Religion is generally described as the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. 
Most religions are built upon the concept that humans can reach a higher power or state of being through their own efforts. Man is, hence, the initiator and the deity is the beneficiary of man’s efforts, sacrifices, or good deeds. Man can, then, reach paradise/heaven as a reward for his strict adherence to whatever tenets that religion prescribes.
Christianity is both a religion, and a relationship. God is the initiator and man is the beneficiary. Romans 3:23 states that there is nothing man can do to make himself right with God. God did for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Our sin separates us from God’s presence and must be punished (Romans 6:23). But, because He is loving and merciful, God took our punishment upon Himself. All we must do is accept God’s gift/grace of salvation through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9).
Deuteronomy 6:5 states that when God gave His Law to the Israelites, He called upon them to love Him with all their heart and with all their soul and with all their strength. Obedience to all the other commands had to stem from a love for God. We are able to love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). 
Holiness and obedience to God’s commands are important, but they are only evidence of a transformed heart, not a means to attain it. 1 Peter 1:16 states that God desires that we be holy as He is holy. We attain holiness by growing in grace and knowledge of Him. 
Christianity is not about subscribing to a religion, but about being born into the family of God, the Church (John 3:3). God adopts us into His family, if we believe in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus. The Holy Spirit, then, comes to live inside our hearts and empowers us to live like children of God. In Galatians 2:20, God asks us to sacrifice our old self with Him so that His power can live through us.
Followers of Jesus Christ were first called “Christians” in Antioch because their behavior, activity, and speech were like those of Christ (Acts 11:26). There are people who do not believe and trust in Jesus Christ but consider themselves Christians simply because they are born in a Christian family and go to church. As one preacher put it, “going to church does not make one a Christian any more than going to a garage makes one an automobile.” 
God has given us very clear instructions as to how we are to live for Him. These include the command to love one another, the call to follow Him at the cost of denying our own desires, the exhortation to care for the poor and needy, and the warning to not fall into sinful behaviors like those who don’t know God (1 Thessalonians 5:6-8). 
St Paul says, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21). We must imitate the example of Christ. We must pursue the knowledge of Christ and be willing to give up anything that prevents us from having Him, as our goal, and our chief desire.
Christian maturity is gradual process, marked with the following of Christ and carrying our cross daily (Luke 9:23). Christians must, hence, abandon shallow devotion to Christ and devote themselves to Him more fully. If they have deviated from the Jesus lifestyle, they do not reflect the name Christian. 
“Christianity doesn’t offer easy consolations, it’s not a shortcut, but requires faith and a healthy moral life which rejects evil, selfishness and corruption,” says Pope Francis. Before a true Christian takes an action, he/she would ask: what would Jesus really do in this situation? 
Did you know?
Christian maturity is gradual process, marked with the following of Christ and carrying our cross daily (Luke 9:23).
Christians must, hence, abandon shallow devotion to Christ and devote themselves to Him more fully. If they have deviated from the Jesus lifestyle, they do not reflect the name Christian. 
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