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 Blooming Stars

Holiness in Christianity

             “…A man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? And Christ said to him, you know the commandments: ‘Do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, Do not bear false witness, do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’ “And he said to him, Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth,” And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” At that saying his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions” (Mark 10: 17-22; Luke 18: 18-23). The most important thing to keep in mind is his heart was in his possessions. He was not detached from worldly goods. Christ said in another place: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6: 21). The point that we need to ponder on is: Are we able to live in this world as if we do not have anything even when we have possessions?

            In other words, we are not attached to material things that impede our journey toward holiness. We need to manage our possessions rather than they manage us. Some of the most sublime statements that come from the scriptures are: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10: 27). The emphasis is on the love of God and the love of one’s neighbor. “So whatever you wish others would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7: 12). This really is the essence of the entire Bible in Christ’s own words. This is the last word on human relations. Christ also made it very clear from the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37) that one’s neighbor is absolutely everyone in the world. So the Good News (Gospel) that Christ came to preach especially to the poor as part of his mission (Luke 4: 18-19) are essentially a social gospel stemming from the father/motherhood of God and the brother/sisterhood of humanity. Holiness is achieved in community/society through conscious relationships and interactions in the context of a personal relationship with God.

            Faith, hope, and charity are the three essential elements of Christian life. But of the three, love is the greatest (I Corinthians, Chapter 13: 13). Love is the most distinguishing characteristic that sets apart the New from the Old Testament of the Bible. Even in love there are three degrees. The first degree: ”Love your neighbor as you love yourself (Luke 10: 25-37)”. The second degree: “Love one another as I (Christ) have loved you (John 12: 12). The third degree: “Love one another as the Father has loved me (John 12: 9). Christ speaks of loving humanity in the way his father loved him. The measure of his love is comparable to the love that drives a person to die for his friends as there is no love greater than that (John 12: 13).Moreover, a person would be considered to be lying if one says that one loves God whom one cannot see while hating one’s brother/sister whom one can see (I John 4:20).

            Christ’s strong advocacy of endless forgiveness (Matthew 18: 21-22) specially high-lighted in the most important prayer that Christians say every day (Matthew 6: 9-14), and in one of his final statements on the cross of forgiving his persecutors (Luke 23: 34) is another essential ingredient in holiness. Forgiveness also precedes Christ’s ministry of reconciliation of humans among themselves and them to God (II Corinthians 5: 17-20). Holiness cannot be conceived without forgiveness and reconciliation. The final measure of Christian holiness, however, is proclaimed in the last judgment (Matthew 25: 31-46) where humans are separated and rewarded or punished on the basis of taking or not taking care of the least among them. In sum, holiness in Christianity is treating others as Christ would treat them, and also treating oneself and others as Christ.

 

     
 
 
 
 
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