The Christian life – a call to holiness
What does it mean to be ‘holy’? What does the Christian life look like when we are disciples of Christ? Joachim Anakwenze looks at the road we must all walk when we say ‘yes’ to the Lord.
Our daily lives are constantly filled with many struggles. Some struggles may seem insurmountable, others can be dealt with by slow and steady work.
For those who manage these struggles, it is not an effortless achievement; they do it through a sincere and untiring effort. It is not just the case of bread and cheese; rather it is built on hard work.
The Search for Happiness in Life Ends in God
Every day of our lives, we are faced with the need to survive, to be happy, to be good, and also the need to do greater things in whatever field we find ourselves.
This can be seen as the essence of our existence since it is rare to see a human being who does not fall into any of the categories mentioned above. With this in mind, we begin to ask many questions in search of answers that may not be out there in the world.
Some of these questions are: What must I do to be happy? Why are my brothers, peers, or friends progressing while I am regressing? What steps should I take to be successful in life? What should I do to be seen as a good person by others?
These questions occupy our minds as we move on in life, and their exact nature differs from one person to another, and from one group of people to another.
I would like to narrow these questions down to the Christian life, a life worth living for those who really know what it means to be a follower of Christ.
Not all who describe themselves as Christians fall into this group. There are the nominal Christians — those who bear the name but do not really try to meet the requirements of true discipleship (bearing in mind that many of us who do try often fail).
The Way We Should or The Way We Want?
The true Christian life is not easy, but we are left with two options: either to live it the way we should, or live it the way we want. They are different because they refer to the narrow and wide gates respectively.
We need to enter by the narrow gate, since the road that leads to destruction is wide and spacious, and many take it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it (Mt 7:13-14).
The Christian is called to live a holy life in imitation of Christ. We do this through our different individual and sincere efforts. Much as we may fail in these efforts, we are called to attain a height of holiness as Christians.
“Your minds then must be sober and ready for action; put all your hope in the grace brought to you by the revelation of Jesus Christ. Do not allow yourselves to be shaped by the passions of your old ignorance, but as obedient children, be yourselves holy in all your activity, after the Holy One who calls us, since scripture says, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’,” Peter wrote in his first epistle (1:13-16).
Called to Be Distinct from “The World”
As Christians, we need to be “set apart” from the world unto the Lord. We need to live our lives according to God’s standards, not the world’s. God is calling us to be distinct from the world.
Peter describes Christians as “a holy nation”. As Christians, we are separated from the world, and as such, we need to live out that reality in our everyday lives.
We are called to live out our struggles in following the Christian way. These daily struggles can come in different ways.
It can be the struggle either to be holy, to abstain from sin, to overcome our daily temptations, to live a prayerful life, to be a saint and so on. These daily struggles come out of a struggle between the two natures in us. Often we give in to the flesh — to gratify ourselves or to receive a pleasure we want — and try as much as we can to subdue the Spirit of God living in us.
Don’t Stand in the Way of Your Own Discipleship
But as Christians, we must not always do what pleases us. We must always be alert to whether what pleases us now will become an obstacle to our sanctification.
We must always have Christ’s admonition in mind: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt 16:24-25).
With this in mind, we Christians should not place the pleasures of this life before God. When we do not subordinate ourselves to God, will we receive eternal life?
If we live our Christian lives the way we ought to, then we will see ourselves saying, like St Paul: “I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come for me now is the crown of uprightness which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that Day; and not only to me but to all those who have longed for his appearing” (2 Tim 4:7-8).
Joachim Anakwenze writes from Jouberton in Klerksdorp diocese.