2009, An-Nahar, Articles

Christ and the Christians / 16.5.2009

Nietzsche said: “The last Christian died on the cross“. I do not consider what he said fully wrong though he did not hit the mark because he did not know the glory of the martyrs and the saints or perhaps he did not want to know. But he is right in that you cannot be another Christ though you try to be like the savior to a great extent. What Man cannot do is to have his heart, his words and his actions be one and in unity with each other. Only the Man of Nazareth could do that. You cannot be the Absolute He is. Yet He likes you to aspire to the absolute. Perhaps the characteristic of Christianity is that it always draws you to Christ the Lord and His commands for you. This is why Christianity does not place a ceiling that you stop at but wants you, as you soar upwards, to realize that the grace which comes down on you from above, always draws you to Heaven and does not accept that you stand below the Divine Throne but facing it.

The ascension of Christ after the resurrection renders the humanity which He has assumed to be seated with the Deity (at the right hand of God). This happened in Him because His humanity is made whole by His Deity in that He had full obedience to the Father; and His obedience was not an imposition of His Deity on His humanity since the two natures in Him were not mixed. Voluntarily, with His free will, He did what pleased His Father always. And He desires that we always please the Father likewise. He has promised you that you can transcend your earthly whims as much as you can, and refuses that any sin would find a dwelling place in you. In Heaven, He intercedes to His Father to make you whole. And being whole in your humanity is to ongoingly seek the perfection your humanity is a potential for. And if you could not get to that wholeness, then you should desire it or else you are in the wrong. Christianity is this ongoing leap to that wholeness accompanied by this constant sadness over not being there yet. Without that sadness, you would have a compromise between you and iniquity, whether it is small or great. Any blemish in you that you have consciously accepted is a pact between you and the kingdom of evil. And if you neglect becoming conscious of that blemish, then that neglect in itself is sinful.

I understand the position of the Protestant Reformation when it asserts that the Scriptures are the only reference to the faith. By that, it wants to attach little importance to Tradition, seen as the result of human effort. But what I embrace in the Protestant Reformation is the desire that every human individual be in harmony and unity with the Word of God in the Bible.

We understand that the Word continues in the Tradition knowing that some detail of linguistic décor in the Tradition is dispensable since it (language décor) is inevitable not to use in religions. But Christianity wants itself to be the mere Word of God and it is not difficult to distinguish between what is divine in the Church’s heritage and what is earthly.

It makes me sad to see some leaders in the Church here on Earth, who do not care about God’s word that governs every speech or action or organization; they have adapted to the décor and have exchanged the wisdom of God with that of this world. This reminds me of a story in the ascetic literature about one of the novices to the monastic life who lives with an elder who trains him in the spiritual life. The story says that the novice died a year after he joined the monastery and the elder saw him in his dream in a fire reaching to his knees. He told him: “I have trained you in holiness, what did you do to yourself that made you go in the fire?” The novice answered saying: “Be at peace my father for I am standing on the shoulders of a bishop.” No comment. The meaning is clear.

I know that righteousness is not the monopoly of anyone, and I know that it has nothing to do with the hierarchy in the Church nut I am tired because I know well the history of the Church and I know well that it is not all Martyrs and Saints. I have read Gandhi well and I understand that he was very fond of “The Sermon on the Mount” and I admit that he did not convert to Christianity because he had not met a single Christian who took the Sermon seriously.

The saints are my only consolation. I know the lives of many of them, and that is sufficient to make me know the power of Christ and His glory particularly in those who have testified with their blood, in a manner beyond all understanding and beyond all description. But what shocks me most is to see someone trying to live according to the Gospel, totally misunderstood and even accused of ignorance and stupidity. Isn’t the Gospel God’s policy? Some people prefer the ways of this world with what it has of falsehood and empty talk. I am not unaware that the ways of this world can do better in several areas, but only according to the criteria of the world. I do not criticize Christians who sin. I am one of them. My only complaint is that they mock, consciously or unconsciously, the criteria of the Gospel.

Let no one confront me with the Lord’s words: ‘Do not judge lest you be judged’. I know too well that judgment belongs to God. I only blame those who are baptized and have accepted the Gospel as the reference for their faith but do not want the Gospel to be applied in their daily affairs and life.

This situation will last forever. Man will go on sinning. This is not my problem, but God’s: the Scriptures speak of that often. Jesus knows that in his Church, many people will continue to wallow in their mire.

But the above condition of Man does not convince me that we have to present to people a Christianity watered down with a mediocre morality to make it more available to those who are corrupt in this world. Such a Christianity has no chance of being considered as authentic by Jesus of Nazareth. In Christianity, only the word of Jesus must prevail. Only His words, and nothing else, bring salvation. I know that I am Christian if I strive in the limitations of my weaknesses to become like the Lord; as such I would have kept the faith in Christ the Absolute. But if I sell Him away by diluting His commandment, then I would be a traitor and, like Judas, I would have hanged myself with a rope or without one.
Why not tell the sinner that he is a disbeliever and a renegade? The miscreant is better than the believer who takes pleasure in his sin; in that, one flatly refused Christ, while the other accepts Christian belief without really giving himself fully to Christ. Those who refuse the Lord to govern their lives are not baptized with the Holy Spirit, but only with water. Their judgment will be even greater.

Is the history of the Church one of treachery? Yes. And on the other hand, does the history of the Church have accounts of people who passionately loved God? Also Yes. Therefore you need to put treachery aside and love God so that you can prove Nietzsche wrong. You yourself, accept to be crucified. This is your only option if you want to have salvation.

Those who loved God with all their heart have always been a dear few. Andre Gide told us in Beirut half a century ago:”The saved have always been few”.

We will finish the course. Each one of you is able to do that if He accepts the Gospel to govern him. If one’s heart is convinced of that, then he will have a greater chance in overcoming his sins and in seeing Christ as his savior; not two thousand years ago, but now in the present daily moments of his life.

Christ only? Yes. Yet that is not His wish. “God wishes that all will be saved”. He wants all people to carry His mark and to put Him on. He did not want Himself to be the voice of one who cries in the wilderness. He died so that you would be able to eliminate any opposition to His Word your mind can have and so that nothing other than His Holy Spirit would nest in your flesh and bones.

There are some who love Jesus passionately and exalt Him; and He in His turn raise them to the Heavenly Throne and seats them with Him at the right hand of the Father.

Translated by Riad Mofarej

Original Text: “المسيح والمسيحيون” – 16.5.2009

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