The return to simplistic ways of living the life of Jesus
The current state of followers of Christ within the modern world displays a generation of people who have moved on with Christianity and forgotten about Jesus Christ as an individual. Pastors, reverends and bishops, preach about Christianity, but they have forgotten to preach about Christ. People are taught commitment to the Bible instead of nurturing a relationship with God. This transformation within Christianity has brought up many questions on whether it was time for priests of the Roman Catholicism, as well as other Christians, to revert to the simple ways of life first exhibited by Jesus Christ.
Roman Catholicism refers to denomination of Christians who believe in their origin in the papacy. It is by far the largest church in the world with the key characteristics being the reliance on tradition and the bible. Catholicism developed in the year 180 CE with historians linking it to Jesus and his disciples. Currently, the Roman Catholicism is headed by the Pope who resides in Vatican. Catholicism is mainly focused around the dogma that God’s grace is expressed through seven sacraments, but specifically through the sacrament of Eucharist. The other six sacraments are baptism, confirmation, penance, holy orders, matrimony, and anointing of the sick. Christianity as a religion covers different kinds of Christians including Roman Catholicism (Robinson 138).
Arguments in favor of the simple life led by Jesus Christ
Christians follow the teachings of Jesus Christ who is believed to be the head of the church and the son of God. Within the bible, it is cited that his life was the perfect example of how all men should conduct their lives. Christians refer to the teachings of Jesus Christ that were captured in the Bible and other historical Christian literature such as the Ten Commandments. According to the bible that serves as the main reference material for the life events of Jesus Christ, he led a humble and simple life (Piper 29). Addressing how Jesus led his life, will provide further insight and information in the attempt to compare it with the Roman Catholic lifestyles.
The principles guiding Jesus Christ in his life on Earth form the basic definition of the simple life according to Christians. The principles of love for God and others, faith and hope, guided Christians in their journey through life. Simplicity can be considered a gift from God given through Jesus. Christians throughout the world have embraced simplicity to various extents from practicing frugal and normal living to dedicating one’s life to serving God’s demands. Christianity also demands a certain level of emulation for Jesus Christ. This is evident within the Bible where in John 13:15, the bible says “…I am the way, the truth and the life…” and in 1st Peter 2:21, the Bible says “…Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps…” From the above verses, it is evident that Jesus Christ lived a very upright, simple and one that should be emulated.
The simple life taught by Jesus and his group of disciples and followers is reflected within the four Gospels in the New Testament. The focus is however not on the words of Jesus but the thoughts and intention that he had. Jesus had an extremely simple principle concerning the accumulation of wealth and worldly materials. In his Sermon on the Mount that is covered in Matthew 6:33, Jesus says, “…bust seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you…” In quoting this verse, Jesus was advising Christians to seek the favor of God before other worldly possession. Conversely, within the Catholic Church, the clergy is entangled in corruption cases involving the embezzlement and misappropriation of followers’ contributions for personal gains. An example is during the Renaissance Period when the church was at the center of corruption cases involving public land. In this instance, the way of life that Jesus led was remarkably simple and frugal, as he did not concern himself with the pursuit of wealth.
Jesus had a simple way of life that avoided some of the contemporary issues faced by most priests and clergy today. Jesus taught about the unwavering loyalty to serving God and stressed that it should take priority over any other activity or function. For priests, this translated to mean that they would dedicate their time and energy into doing the work of God. However, Christianity has transformed to lower the standards of priests to a point that the clergy nowadays constantly meddle in politics and economic activities. When they divert their attention away from spreading the word of God, their faith is lowered. Likewise, the congregations who witness priests taking active roles in non-religious affairs lose their trust and faith in Christianity and God.
The need for priests to revert to following Christ’s way of teaching also stems from the argument that modern Christian teachers preach using a distorted approach. During the time of Jesus, teachers such as Paul wrote letters that advised different societies on the proper way to communicate with God and how to live in the community. Conversely, modern teachings have focused on personal development of the Christian individual. This approach has left little space in the church for the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The teachings administered by Jesus and his followers were inspired by God and focused on changing the congregation’s attitudes and approaches towards religious development (Newcom 160).
Arguments against the simple life led by Jesus Christ
Conversely, the lifestyles of the contemporary Roman Catholics are characterized by a focus on traditions, rituals and compromises. The modern Catholics have experienced many generations of transformations in the Christian religion that has produced a liberal view to following the teachings of Jesus. Although it will suffice to say that contemporary Catholics still acknowledge Jesus as the head of the church, the current practices among Christians have diverted away from the initial conduct displayed by Jesus Christ during his era. Te result has been a complex society in which numerous fabricated institutions, traditions and rituals have changed the face of Christianity.
Among some of the modern lifestyles practiced by Catholics, include traditions, for example, indulgences. Indulgences are defined as means through which punishment for sins done by a Christian can be forgiven. The downside is that indulgences are assumed to postpone the sins to later in life or purgatory. Partial indulgences remove part of the punishments while plenary indulgences remove all of the punishment. Within the same breath, the Roman Catholicism prescribes Christian teaching or studying gain a longer period of indulgence that reaches three years. The deliberate attempt to adapt the nature of Christ into worldly standards that are comprehensible to man has created complexities such as these which divert people from learning the true meaning of Jesus Christ, God and Christianity. Increasing the focus on these activities diverts attention and time from having a relationship with God (Erre 98).
The changes occurring within Christianity over the years has also changed the focus of worship, preaching and prayer. Within the Roman Catholic, the focus on Mary the mother of Jesus Christ has diverted many Christians from the true form of religion. According to the teachings of the bible, Jesus is the model of desirable qualities. When Catholics engage in worshipping statues of Mary, this goes against the biblical teachings contained in Exodus 20:4-5 that prohibit the worshipping of idols. These hidden violations of the regulations governing Christianity display the need for Christians to revert to the simple way of Jesus Christ. During Jesus’ era, the focus was placed on teaching about and worshipping God.
The practice of celibacy among Catholic priests has created new issues within the church setting that did not exist beforehand. Celibacy involves remaining in the state of being unmarried, abstinence from sexual contact and exposure to women in intimate situations. Aspects of celibacy have been present in Christianity as well as other religions for many years. Celibacy was meant to focus individuals in the dispersal of God’s word by avoiding sexual activity that would make them impure. However, the values surrounding celibacy as a practice among priests and their subordinates have been lost leading to major sexual scandals within the church. The controversial raping, physical assault and molestations perpetrated by priests are a clear sign that Christians should seek the earlier ways of life.
The contemporary version of Christianity is somewhat misleading in the way in which certain entities are given a higher priority to Jesus Christ and God. Within the Catholic Church, the focus on priests as the important factors in their prayers and worship has reduced the significance, value and reference to God as the Almighty Savior. Instead, the congregation has focused their worship, reverence and adoration to the Pope and his subordinates (Kalu et al, 234). This issue is partly contributed by the powerful positions held by the clergy. While there is no problem with priests occupying any position in the church, the nature of man is inclined to assume that the attention, respect and worship is directed to him and not God. This was not the case in the earlier periods when Jesus preached by removing himself from the spotlight and bringing people’s attention towards God.
The need for priests and followers of Christianity to return to the initial ways and examples of Jesus Christ is supported by various key arguments. One, the diversion of focus from God to other worldly creations such as effigies and idols in most churches. Two, the lowering of standards among the clergy that has made them indistinguishable from common people and three, the wrongful interpretation of scriptures within the bible by the clergy. The Catholic Church has appeared in almost all these instances mentioning the drifting of priests and clergy away from the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Erre, Mike. The Jesus of Suburbia: Have We Tamed the Son of God to Fit Our Lifestyle?Nashville, Tenn: W Pub. Group, 2006. Print.
Kalu, Ogbu, and Alaine M. Low. Interpreting Contemporary Christianity: Global Processes and Local Identities. Grand Rapids, Mich: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 2008. Print.
Newcom, Harvey. Great Apostasy: Being an Account of the origin, rise and progress of corruption and tyranny in the Church of Rome. Indigo. 2003. Web. Accessed on 15 August 2012. Retrieved from http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Great-Apostasy-Being-Account-Origin-Harvey-Newcomb/9780766178847-item.html
Piper, John. The Passion of Jesus Christ: Fifty Reasons Why He Came to Die. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2004. Print.
Robinson, James M. The Gospel of Jesus: In Search of the Original “good News”. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2005. Print.