“Jesus Christ didn’t save us with an idea, with an intellectual program, no.
He saved us with his flesh, with the concreteness of the flesh.”
This quote from Pope Francis slipped across my screen as I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed. I didn’t slow down as I was looking for something else, but kept scrolling. But something stopped me and I began reversing my scroll and stopped on the picture of the Pope with these words written beside him. Captivated I thought about it for a moment. Christ didn’t come here to save us with an idea but with His flesh. The strong and powerful words rang loudly, not just in my ears, but in my heart too. I knew that God was speaking to me and wanted me to hear a very important message.
It’s not uncommon to hear others saying negative things about Christians. We only have to turn on the news or the radio to hear Christians take a real beating. One of the claims that we often hear is that Christians are hypocrites who say one thing but act another way. And while it’s true that we are all sinners and bound to mess up from time to time (you know- we may have the bumper sticker that reads, “Honk if you love Jesus!” but then we get angry at another drive and act in a very unchristian way as we pass him), I wonder if there may also be a little bit of truth in the assertion that many Christians are hypocrites who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.
It’s easy for us to take a quote out of the bible or stand before the congregation and say, “If we want to save souls we must do THIS!” or “To show we are want to be Christ-like we must do THIS!” It’s easy to formulate plans on what to do, when to do it, and what our main goals should be. But to actually follow through with the plans we’ve made is much harder.
If we are to be like Christ, we must be willing to give of ourselves. Of course, most of us will not be asked to die for our faith, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t called to give as much of ourselves as possible. If we want to make a difference in the world, if we want to help bring others to Christ, then we must be willing to give of our flesh.
But what does that mean? It means that after the plans are made we actually walk the walk we are talking about. It means we sacrifice our time, our energy, our money, our hearts, and ourselves so that we can put others first. When the plans are made we should be the ones who raise their hands to volunteer to do the dirty work, the hands-on work, the lowly work, and the work that many don’t want to do. It means that even though it seems like we are always the ones giving up for others and volunteering, we continue to do so because Christ continues to call us even when we are tired, when we are down, and when we feel like it’s someone else’s turn to step up to the plate to take over.
Christ leads us by example. He is a ready example of what we must do in order to do the Father’s work. He stepped up to complete the task of insuring salvation for all, not by mapping out a plan and then hoping someone else would take the lead, but instead by offering up His flesh and dying on the cross for us.
The people who claim Christians are hypocrites may have a little bit of truth on their side. We must ask ourselves if we are people who plan or people who act. We must also ask ourselves if we are following in Christ’s path by offering up everything we have for God and for others. If not, why not? What can we do to change this?
When we get discouraged, we only have to look at Christ on the cross for inspiration. When we feel tired of giving, we only have to look at the cross to be rejuvenated. When we feel overwhelmed, we need only to sit in the shadow of the cross to have hope once again. Christ provides salvation through the gift of His flesh. Imagine how much we also have to give others through the gift of ourselves! We have the power to change lives. Are we willing to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and make those sacrifices?