IS PNG REALLY A CHRISTIAN NATION?

Editorial

The National

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (, April 9, 2009) – Today is Holy Thursday, so-called to honour the night 2,000 years ago when Jesus Christ gathered his disciples together in a room and held what turned out to be his last supper with them.

Tomorrow is Good Friday, the day Christ was publicly disowned, beaten and crucified.

On Sunday, Christianity bases its existence on the fact that the crucified and now dead Christ broke the chains of death and miraculously rose to everlasting life.

These few days bear great significance to the meaning and to the very existence of Christianity as a religion.

These few days two millennia ago were filled with dramatic events which bore cosmic consequences, or so Christians believe.

Without the persecution, crucifixion, death and rising of Christ in these few momentous days, there would be no belief in salvation offered through the cross of Christ.

As a nation which has declared itself to be Christian in the opening lines of the Constitution, the Easter season is a time for serious reflection on what it means to be Christian.

What does being a Christian really entail?

There were no Christians in the time of Jesus Christ, only Jews, Romans, Greeks and others who had a whole host of religious beliefs.

Jesus Christ was himself not a Christian. He was a Jew. He followed the Jewish commandments of his fathers.

He did not exhort his followers to start a number of church congregations all over. Only once did he tell Peter that he was the rock upon which He would found His church. It was only after his death that Christ’s followers were referred to as Christians.

Yet, today, we have a multiplicity of churches all claiming to be representing the one true church of Jesus Christ.

Never mind other religions of the world, Christians themselves are not united on what they ought to be doing.

Many Christians in this country are not Christ-like. Yes, many go to church. Yes, they preach the Bible but then condemn those who are not like them, forgetting Christ’s command: "Let he that is without sin cast the first stone."

Churches preach that HIV/AIDS is the wages of sin. Who is throwing stones here?

To our mind, it would seem that today we put too much between ourselves and Christ.

Christians claim other religions do not have access to God. Christ did not condemn Romans or Greeks or Samaritans. Indeed the story of the Good Samaritan is a good lesson for all Christians to know what they are really like.

Do not put anything – a building, a person or a ritual – between you and that personal, intimate relationship with God.

The real Christian would be the person who, whether baptised (ritually) or not, whether he belonged in a church congregation or not, followed dearly the standards and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Only such a person is Christ-like and therefore truly Christian.

There are parallels in the life and teachings of Jesus and in the events of Easter that go far beyond just religious beliefs and festivities and have a direct bearing on our own secular world.

Take for instance the washing of the disciples’ feet before dinner. On Thursday evening before dinner, Christ went from disciple to disciple with a bucket of water to wash their feet in a gesture that was meant to inspire all generations of leaders to humble themselves and to serve their people.

Yet how many times do our leaders really humble themselves or get down to serving their people. Buying a K128 million jet for the exclusive use of Government leaders hardly suggests that our leadership is Christ-like.

Approving a hefty rise in allowances at a time when people are struggling to make ends meet hardly suggest a Christ-like, selfless behaviour. On the contrary, it portrays wanton greed.

During dinner, Christ identified and pointed out the man who would betray him.

Judas was a close confidante of Christ but he betrayed him for money and in doing so, he condemned the rest of humanity to greed for money being bigger than friendship or family.

Christ suffered stoically, courageously unto death because he believed in a cause. How many of us today can stand up for a principle or fight for what is right?

Do we not allow our womenfolk to be raped and fail to take action because they are not related to us?

Do we not cover up for corrupt practices because we are likely to benefit?

How can we call ourselves a Christian or that we belong in a Christian country when we are not Christ-like in our thoughts, words and actions?

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

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