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The Church and the Christian
The Christian is a follower of Christ. He listens to the Word of God and tries, as far as possible, to carry out His teachings. If he/she does not follow in Christ’s footsteps then he/she is not a Christian. “Whoever does the will of God is my brother. my sister, and my mother.” (Mark 3:35). It is true Christ gave his audience some “hard sayings” so that many of his disciples turned away from Him. “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.’ (John 6:53) “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother and his wife and children and brothers and sisters, and even his own life also he cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:26). However, He has taught us and shown us how to live more abundant lives and if we live by the principles and doctrines he has imparted to us, our lives will be much richer.
The Church seems to have strayed from its moorings and abandoned its duties. It does not necessarily practise what it preaches, and does not always preach the message of Christ. The Christian in following Christ knows that he/she must abide by God’s holy laws. He must obey the Ten Commandments. Most people obey some, not all. He taught His disciples to turn the other cheek, to love one’s neighbour as one's self, to love one’s enemies, to do good to those who hate you, pray for those who spitefully use you, lend hoping for nothing in return, be merciful just as your Father also is merciful, to forgive as Christ forgives us, judge not that you be not judged, and why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye?” (Matt.7:1-4) Do we see these admonitions practised in the Church? In many cases we see a lack of humility. Some feel they are too important to notice those of lesser ilk. “But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as trangressors.” (James 2:1-9). He who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mark 2:17). Christ gave the example of the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee, in his self-righteousness, boasted that he was not like other men, exalting himself above others, of his uprightness and paying his tithes, whereas the Publican kept his eyes fixed on the ground and asked for forgiveness for himself, being a sinner.
If the pastor’s sermon strikes at the failings of his congregation, they move to another Church or band together to have him removed. Many Church members do not read the Scriptures and thus are unaware of the true messages of Christ. They only know what the priest or pastor tells them from the pulpit and reference the specific passage he is quoting from, but a true knowledge of the Bible is lacking. Hence, they are unable to practise the faith necessary to recognise the love of Jesus and appreciate the Word of God. The faith that would strengthen and grow to allow them to live more fruitful lives is missing. They are like empty vessels that need to be filled with the truth, the truth about Jesus and why He came to earth, to show us how to live and how destructive sin is.
Many pastors now give sermons that make the congregation feel good, tell them what they want to hear, not what they need to know. Many give the impression that God wants them to be rich, without a change of heart, so they must sow a seed of so much. Many of these pastors can be seen building palaces for themselves and driving around in their fancy cars to impress their flock. Jesus’ words fall on deaf ears: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” And as for the Church it seems applicable that “Many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matt:22:14). Jesus will say, “Forasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these, my brethren, you did it to me.” (Matt.25:40) “for I was hungry and you gave Me food. I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” (Matt: 25:35&36). Many non-believers display more Christian-like attitudes to others than many of the Church people.
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