Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Why do we follow Christianity?

Dr. Yuhanon Mor Philoxinos, Metropolitan of Malabar Dioceses

There are so many religions in this world, such as Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism and so on. Majority of the world population follow Christianity as their way of life. Why do we, Christians, believe in Christ and Christianity?

Among the worldwide religions, Christianity is a historical religion. Hinduism is based on mythology which is time immemorial assumptions. Islam, Buddhism, Jainism etc. are based on reformers. Christianity came into existence as an offshoot of Judaism. Christianity has historical background and the history itself divided as before (B.C.) and after Christ (A.D) or Anno Domino (in the year of our load). Hence the history of a religion of faith is very important. That is why the majority of people follow Christianity.

God is Spirit; therefore, nobody can see God. In the fullness of time the word God took flesh from Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit and thus, God became visible to the human beings as a perfect Man and perfect God. This Incarnation of the Word is a very important aspect and cardinal faith of Christianity. A visible God in human Body is a unique attraction of Christianity. The book of Genesis records “God created man in his own image" (Gen: 1:27). A perfect God in human flesh lived, moved, served and died for the whole world is another uniqueness of Christianity. That is why we follow Christianity.

A tragic death of man is a tragedy, but in Christianity Man-God, Jesus Christ, rose from the dead on Sunday, the third day after His vicarious death on the Cross on Friday. A living – risen – God is a thrilling experience to the believers in the past, present and future. Holy Scripture says: “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). This is why we Christianity.

God was transcendent in the Old Testament teachings of Judaism, but in Christianity (New Testament) Christ is Emmanuel, means ‘God is with us’ (Matt. 1:22). “God is with us” is an unexplainable daily experience of the faithful followers of Christ. People always prefer such a God who is with the people and that is why we follow Christianity.

The Last Supper and its continuation is the Holy Qurbono, which is a present reality to the Jacobite Syrian Christians. Therefore, it is called ‘Anamnesis’ (Greek) or “Zakkron “ (Hebrew). It is something different from the rituals of other religions. Christ Jesus, the Living Incarnated God gave the Body and Blood to His disciples in the form of Bread and Wine on Monty Thursday. The next day, Good Friday, He gave his life as a Living Sacrifice on the Cross as ransom for many. There are many types of sacrifices of animals in various faiths, especially in Judaism, but only in Christianity we see a Living Sacrifices of a Paschal Lamb, Christ Jesus who instructed His followers to follow it until His Second Coming. That is why we follow Christianity.

A sinless man dying for the sinners is unique in Christianity; “Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor: 15:3). The resurrection of the dead, the second coming of the Messiah, a life with Christ after the second coming is only in Christianity. So many religious leaders lived and died, but none of them promised a life after death to the believers. Jesus Christ rose from the dead as the fist fruit and promised a triumphant second coming. With this second coming of the Messiah with the angels and archangels, the living and the quickened will be in heavenly abode with Christ. “For Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangels and with the triumphant call of God and dead in Christ will rise first. After that we also are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Tess. 4:16-17). This is why we believe and follow Christianity.

Only in Christianity, there is sacramental sacred life. The true believers receive the invisible graces by the visible celebration of sacraments. Such true believers are the part and parcel of the body of Christ, known as the Church. Christ is the Head and at the same time the Body of the Church. This means the Church is the Lord and He guides those who are in Him. In a wider sense, to a believer, life in the Church is an inseparable relationship and experience. By the acceptance and reception of Baptism, Holy Qurbono, Holy Confession, Holy Chrism etc., Christians are in Christ. That is why we follow Christianity.

Prayer, study, and actions are the main factors behind peace. Christ is the peace of the world. The first message of Christ after the resurrection was peace. This peace of Christ (Pax Christy) is given to the followers. Therefore Christians are to stand for peace. Christ says, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, I am sending you" (John 20:21). That is why we follow Christianity.

Sin is the prevention of man’s relationship to God. Son of man came to see and save that which was lost (Luk. 19:10). St Paul’s teaching was centered on the message of Salvation. The Gospel of Salvation, Soteriology (Science of Salvation) to the repented sinners is in Christianity only. “Love your neighbour as yourselves (Matt, 19:19)”, “Love your enemies” (Mtt.5: 44), are only in the Bible. That is why we Christians follow Christ and Christianity.


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