Faith without works is dead. The Bible.
I read Bertrand Russell’s scathing and seminal essay “Why I Am Not A Christian” sometimes back, and after thoughtful consideration, I almost got tempted to “aye” to each and every statement he sets out in his very persuasive argument as to why “Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.” I must say from the outset that religious philosophy is not my niche, but I am a keen observer of things done under the auspices of “religion”. The truth of the matter is that we live in a straitjacket world full of self, the Iself world where everyone is for himself and God for us all. Where it is either black or white, (there’s no harm in just ignoring the grey areas!).
I’m neither a nominal Christian nor a professing, practicing Christian as I do not believe in religion. But I wish I was a Christian, a real sentient and true Christian, not an emotional and irrational christian. My introduction to Christianity from my cradle was not by first choice, but by default. This was borne of the fact that I was born and bred in a Christian family in a supposed Christian way with a habit and penchant for attending Sunday Church services as routine. The scope of my present unChristianity is not by mere coincidence or default; it is by profound personal choice based on experience. My unChristian faith has not acted as an impediment to my relationship with my creator, my God. My spiritual tipping point came when I was sixteen and my discerning eye opened. I had to start from a clean tabula rasa. I found out that I was living a lie, behind a temporal physical facade which blurred the spiritual view. This is when I knew what was required of me if I had to have the privilege of being a Christian in this paradise lost.
To be a Christian meant that I had to forego some things which are deemed necessary for day to day affairs, to act true to the Christian creed e.g. deluding myself in the belief in denominations. I had to make sacrifices, to repudiate the doctrine of demanding a pound of flesh when it was due to me. To follow Jesus’ maxims, to be least among these, to love my neighbour with the same amount of love I reserved for myself, to turn the other cheek. I found out that verily indeed, I had to imitate Christ before I could see the kingdom of God for as even Bertrand Russell, who strongly proclaimed that he was not a Christian, asserted that Jesus had a very high degree of moral goodness. In the absence of Christlike moral goodness, I worship Jesus in vain, I am like the five foolish virgins, I don’t measure up. I looked within myself and did not find my words and deeds in sync with the words of Jesus.
It was at this juncture that I knew the folly of those alluded to in the Gospel of Mark 7;7. These are the ones who are quick to selectively quote the Bible, Thou Shall Not Judge, they cite, but ignore that we are told in the same vein we shall know them by their deeds, of a tree being known by its fruits. And I beheld and saw that these “believers”, the blind who were leading men in subconscious spiritual slumber were innumerable. They required of people lip service and overzealous blind faith minus accompanying actions. This state of perpetual ignorance amongst the teachers of the law drove me to seek God’s mercies that he would grant me the grace to be Christ like. But after several years, replete with trials and tribulations down the line, the understanding of the elucidated message it is still a tall order. My dream of being a Christian is yet to be fulfilled because of my human weaknesses. I long to seek and please God, but end up occasionally seeking mammon. It is based on these considerations that my conscience does not nowadays go and kneel in the sanctuary of God while knowing that I may be holding a grudge against another person who I am not yet ready to forgive countless times, because I sometimes believe that an eye for an eye, tooth for tooth but not head for head is fair game.
On fair assessment, as I surmounted everyday fears, I acknowledged the fact that I was more a child of the world than a child of the kingdom. I did not meet the parameters set at Antioch to be classified as a Christian, to imitate the acts of Christ. My life was lived more by the dictates of the world I lived in than the precepts of the way of the cross. I was driven by the desire to succeed in my endeavours by all tricks in the book, and repent later upon attaining my ends because I had been made to understand that God was ever forgiving and in my spiritual malaise forgot about Him being a consuming fire. I had ignored the fact that God’s covenant was written in my heart but let my own human affairs take up the bytes in my heart.
It will not take the effort of any proselytizing bishop, a sanctimonious pastor, reviled or revered reverend or bling preacher’s ranting and threats about the destiny of the bottomless pit till kingdom come before I become a Christian, not necessarily because if Jesus Christ was to pass by in their churches He would give them a good hiding and ban all their enterprising ideas whilst turning the tables, but because becoming a Christian needn’t be an act of getting “saved” and being immersed in water but a process of living as the Biblical scriptures ordain life to be, faith entwined with actions. The life I lead now does not reflect the life envisaged to be led by a Christian in the very construction of the word, and subsequently I remain a son of man living in sin as per the Bible. It will take me and my faith to be Christ like. I am currently still sitting pretty, perched up the sycamore tree, and a happy day it will be when my sins will be washed away and Jesus will feast in my heart.