THERE are two Christs. First is the Christ before Christianity or the Christ of Christmas and, second, the Christ after Christianity or the Christ of Easter.
The first is Jesus who was born a man on Christmas Day and lived among us. As a carpenter’s son, he could not have lived a more ordinary life. Yet Jesus’ followers saw in him a most extraordinary and exemplary human being who healed the sick, drove out demons, dressed down money changers and worked miracles on the sabbath. Jewish religious leaders, on the other hand, only saw a blasphemous law-breaker who rubbed elbows with sinners for which they had him sentenced to death by crucifixion.
The second is Jesus who proved himself to be God by rising from the dead on Easter Sunday. He is the Christ that Christianity enshrined in dogmas of faith and rituals of worship. Thus the biggest feast of Christians is Easter Sunday. For without the resurrection Jesus would not be God but just another great religious leader like Buddha or Mahomet.
But the more significant event should be the birth of Jesus which was God’s extreme expression of love for us. (He becomes man and dies for us, how much more extreme can his love be?) Moreover, Jesus’s exemplary life is what can positively impact the lives of people on earth. Christians can definitely change the world if they modeled their lives after that of Jesus, the Christ of Christmas.
The Christ of Easter, on the other hand, is inimitable not only because he is God but also because he ascended to heaven after his resurrection and no longer had a human life that we can imitate. The Christ of Easter can only be the object of faith and worship and this is where problems occur. Even though the apostle James categorically tells us that faith without good works does not save, the fact remains that many Christians prefer worshiping the risen Christ of Easter with ritual devotions to imitating the life of the Christ who was born a man on Christmas Day.
What will improve the quality of life on earth is the imitation of the Christ of Christmas who clearly came not so much to be worshiped as to be imitated in his loving, forgiving and understanding ways. It is ironic that God deigned to be born a man to show us how to live a truly human life and here comes Christianity’s leaders enshrining him in dogma and placing him back in heaven more to be worshiped than imitated.
Worshiping the Christ of Easter without imitating the Christ of Christmas is hypocrisy. Imitation is the best form of worship and expression of faith in someone. Ritual worship in church is only where we draw the spiritual strength needed for a genuine imitation of the Christ of Christmas.
Have a joyful Christmas everyone.