Friday, July 31, 2015

The heart of Christianity

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
August 2, 2015

John 6:24-35

The people need Jesus and look for him. There's something in him that attracts them but they still don't know why they're looking for him or to what end. According to the evangelist, many are doing it because the day before, he had distributed bread to them to satisfy their hunger.

Jesus starts to talk with them. There are things that should be clarified from the beginning. Material bread is very important. He himself has taught them to ask God for "daily bread" for everyone. But human beings need something more. Jesus wants to offer food that can satiate their hunger for life forever.

The people sense that Jesus is opening a new vista, but they don't know what to do or where to start. The evangelist summarizes their questions with these words: "What can we do to accomplish the works of God?". In them, there is a sincere desire to get it right. They want to work on what God wants but, used to thinking about everything based on the Law, they ask Jesus what new works, practices, and observances they must take into consideration.

Jesus' response touches the heart of Christianity: "The work (singular!) God wants is this: that you believe in the one he sent." God only wants them to believe in Jesus Christ since he is the great gift He has sent into the world. This is the new requirement. This is what they are to work on. Everything else is secondary.

After twenty centuries of Christianity, don't we need to rediscover that the full force and originality of the Church is in believing in Jesus and following him? Don't we need to move beyond the attitude of followers of a religion of "beliefs" and "practices" to live as disciples of Jesus?

Christian faith is not primarily properly fulfilling a code of new practices and observances, superior to those of the Old Testament. No. Christian identity is in learning to live a lifestyle that is born of a living and trusting relationship with Jesus Christ. We become Christians in the measure that we learn to think, feel, love, work, suffer and live like Jesus.

Being a Christian today requires an experience of Jesus and identification with his plan that wasn't required a few years ago to be a good practitioner. To survive in the midst of secular society, Christian communities need to take greater care than ever of their vital adherence to and contact with Jesus Christ.

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