Authentic Christianity is willing to make sacrifices. It is a Church willing to put others before themselves, to consider themselves not first, second, or third, but dead last. “This is My commandment,” Jesus Christ tells us, “that you love one another as I loved you,” (Jn. 15:13 NRSV). This commandment requires Christians to dedicate their entire lives to loving those whom they come in contact with, because God’s love for us is utterly irreplaceable; it is a standard to which we are held to. Moreover, an authentic church understands this command as a challenge for us to make a difference in social issues.

When the poor and needy cry for help, or when the homeless beg in the streets, we are not supposed to shrug our shoulders and simply wish they could have a better life, if they were only to try. Such a response does not echo the heart of Jesus; in fact, it is dangerously close to the prayer of the Pharisee, who “standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector [who was praying next to him in the same temple]. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income,’” (Luke 18:10-12 NRSV). To assume to know the past and heart of an individual is foolishness. In addition, to presume that one should not aid the poor because of some external driving factor is unbiblical. Our thoughts when encountering the poor and needy on the streets should echo those of the tax collector who was praying in the very same temple as the Pharisee, who “standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, [said Jesus] this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted,” (Lk. 18:13-14 NRSV).

In conclusion, humility, love, and action are key factors in preserving an authentic body of Christ. Without humbling ourselves, loving others, and helping those in need, we become unfaithful, legalistic, ritualistic fakers of the faith who do not herald the spirit of Christ into the world. Therefore, let us love one another, as Christ has loved us. Let our prayers and actions regarding the poor and lowly mimic not those of the Pharisee but the tax collector’s.


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