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Christian Dignity

God is Love

Christian Dignity

 

Introduction:

       Christian dignity and Christian ethic has very close relations to each other. We cannot maintain Christian dignity without act upon the Christian ethic. So, we need to study Christian Ethics. Christian dignity, we can show through our living style, through our acts and through our character. Our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us how we can maintain Christian dignity. St. Paul writes to Ephesians “Let all bitterness, worth, anger, clamor and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” (Eph. 4:31), further Paul says “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Phil. 4:8) Through these verses, we can understand the Christian dignity. Christian ethics rests in its entirety on the assumption that the one sovereign and righteous God as man’s creator approves and requires a specific moral stand and behavior. Jesus Christ more intimately connected the Divine requirements of love for God and neighbor and He summarized in two-fold commandment the whole duty of man (Matt. 22:37). He not only gave commandment, rather He gave His life on the cross and made an example to show love with humankinds and obedience to Father God’s command’s the evidence of love. Before discuss about Christian dignity, its much better that we looks on its meaning and definition.

Definition of Dignity:

      Ferozsons dictionary describes, dignity means “True worth”. It is difficult to define the word “dignity”. Often it has denoted the honor of rank so that it referred merely to the status of a dignitary. Christian dignity in this sense is nothing more than a privilege or prerogative or even simply a sense of decorum. Thus we can interpret, dignity is distinction gained by action or status. Philip M. Parker says, “Dignity is a human condition of being worthy of respect or esteem.”He further mentioned, “President Bush himself has proven, you need dignity, honesty, and character in office and you will not have corruption regardless of the system.”These words also give clarity of meaning of the word “dignity. M. Douglas Meeks describes “Christian theology understandings human dignity on the basis of biblical testimonies, the narratives of Israel and Jesus. According to these narratives Christian dignity is based on God’s claim to the creation.”The Catechism of the Catholic teaches, “the dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation image and likeness of God”. Christian dignity means to live like holy life like Christ, to live according to Biblical teaching, obey to God’s commandments, live according to Christian traditions. Through Bible’s teaching, testimonies, the accounts about Israel and Jesus teaching we can maintain Christian dignity. The biblical teachings have ingredients of Christian dignity. Christian dignity is based in God’s redeeming history with the world. For example, human rights reflect what God is doing and requiring to meet basic human needs to free human beings from idolatry and other kind of sins and bring human being into communal relationships, including relationships to past and future generations. Only the Messiah that has the suffering of God at its heart remains on messianic that can nature of Christian dignity. In Christian terms this means that God is totally invested in the finality of the life and death of God’s creatures here and now. Thus the cross of Lord Jesus Christ is the sign of God’s own commitment to Christian dignity. In short Christian dignity is to see on cross every time in life and live according to the teaching of Christ. St. Paul says “your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man he humbled himself and became obedient to death even death on a cross.” (Phil. 2:5-8)

INGRIDENTS OF CHRISTIAN DIGNITY

           The ingredients/components of Christian dignity are Jesus Christ’s teaching, and if someone lives according to Christ’s teaching, he can maintain Christian dignity. We need study the following  ingredients to learn, how we can maintain Christian dignity:

Christian Love:

           Perhaps the most distinctive and very important account of God about Christian dignity is the brief statement in 1 John 4:8 and 1John 4:16 that “GOD IS LOVE”. The whole chapter is imbedded, stresses a fundamental link between our love to God, God’s love for us and our love for one an other. This chapter also makes it clear that the two fundamental commandments put forward by Jesus Christ in the gospels, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind and you shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-38). This passage offers in essence a theological grounding for a thorough going Christian dignity. Eric Reitan says, “Christian love reaches beyond the self to the neighbor, seeks the good of the neighbor without any self-interested motive and without regard for whether the neighbor deserves it (it is this last point which makes it possible for Christian love to extend to our enemies).” To love others even enemies without any interest is really Christian dignity. As a true Christian we need maintain Christian dignity by love to others even own enemies. All of Christ’s life puts on display God’s loving character but the cross of Christ demonstrates the love of God more clearly than the other acts of any other person in all human history. Christ himself is the perfect, living model of God’s character. Love is warm affection, suffering a disposition till it concentrates on other whether or not they are worthy of the gift of love. Robertson McQuikin mentioned “the result of loving attitudes and behavior underscore the supreme importance of our theme. God’s love for us provide life and salvation and now provides all that we need.” Christian love has been presented as a giving of the self for the good of the neighbor’s sake and without regard and without any interest for whether the neighbor deserves such gift. Such love carries with it bonds of affection, mutual understandings and connectedness that for exceed what is possible when the love proceeds in only one direction. In this life, we seek not only to love as God’s love, but also to strive for this final end of God’s design by creating communities of mutual love to the extent that we are able. Furthermore, if we look carefully at what it is to be human, community and fellowship turn out to be fundamental to our well-being. One of the greatest gifts we can offer to anyone is the opportunity for such fellowship, this sows Christian dignity, and true Christian must be display and maintain the Christian dignity.

Forgiveness: 

          Forgiveness is also an important component of Christian dignity. Only the life, teaching and the atonement of Lord Jesus Christ can release us from our sins otherwise impossible predicament. Everyone has made mistakes, large or small, which if unresolved will keep us from the presence of God. The only atonement of Jesus Christ is the way of salvation. He also have authority to forgive our sins and He teach to people forgive others so that your sins will forgiven. This is the Christian dignity that they forgive to each other and Jesus also gives forgiveness from their sins. No other religion or the founder of religion claim for the authority of forgiveness of sins. Christian dignity is to forgive others even own enemies. Richard G. Scott wrote “it open the gates to exaltation and eternal life for all who qualify for forgiveness through repentance and obedience.”Only Christ, the redeemer can settle our individual account with justice and grant forgiveness through the merciful way of repentance. He gave example of the authority of forgiveness during own ministry and even on the cross, Jesus said on the cross “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).  When a sinner woman brought to him He said your sins has forgiven go and don’t do this again, Jesus many time use these word for example Jesus said to paralytic man “friend your sins are forgiven” (Luke 526). He is an absolutely perfect, compassionate, understanding, patient and forgiving Father. He is willing to entreat, counsel, strengthen, lift and fortify. He also loves each of us that He was willing to have His perfect, sinless, absolutely obedient, totally righteous Son experience indescribable agony and pain and give Himself in sacrifice for all of us, for the forgiveness of our sins. This is Christian dignity that in Christ we can get forgiveness of our all kind of sins and we need to forgive others mistakes and sins.

Stewardship:

          Stewardship is also the Christian dignity. We Christian do not have the choice of being stewards of being free. St. Paul gave no choice of freedom but only choice of masters. He says; we may be slaves to sin or slaves to obedience to the Lord (Rom. 6:16). Jesus set serving God and serving mammon as alternatives (Mt. 6:24). To fulfill our properly as a good steward is Christian dignity. Paul K. Jewett describes, “We must not only acknowledge our final answerability to God for our stewardship but also be aware of the value of that which has been entrusted to us. The steward who confesses dust and diamonds will not prove a good one no matter how excellent her intentions.” So, we need, must recall the Lord’s affirmations of the intrinsic created goodness of his works, before humankind entered upon the scene at all (Gn. 1:2-25). As human being acting on God’s behalf should uphold God’s intent for the creation. Ruling over nature does not mean destroying what we are supposed to rule. But neither does it mean leaving what has been entrusted to us. As a Christian, we are expected to invest, to improve the stock, to distribute benefits rightly, which granted by God, to make responsible choices (Mt. 25:14-46), Lk. 12:41-48).  We do wrong if we allow our choices to be dictated by self-indulgence or ambition. We also do wrong and loose Christian dignity, if we act helpless and powerless and passive when with effort and action we could gain proper increase from the resources we have been given by Lord. Paul K. Jewett further mentioned, “ A good steward, though would not expect her master to be pleased by a splendid bottom line obtained by using up all the master’s capital. The general principles of not wasting (Ezk. 34:8), not exploiting (Prv. 12:10), and not destroying (Dt. 20:19; 22:6) must be honored."  Through maintain these principles are to maintain the Christian dignity and as Christian it is a command given by Lord. Our tendency to crassly utilitarian motives and our failure to value what God values than it does about them, and further we can live cooperatively with others. We might perhaps join the biblical image of the good shepherd with the image of steward and the example of Noah, it should be evident to us that other creatures require protection from us, (this authority/dignity has given by God) and benevolent care. The good steward will always exercise her stewardship accordingly and try to maintain Christian dignity. He not allows even urgent necessities to make her apply that relentless pressure that disobeys the Lord’s command. He also extends the sense of reserve inherent in the principle of not exploiting the land to reserve in use of other resources. The stewardship component of a modest exercise of dominion then emphasizes responsibility before God. It is Christian dignities that in Christ God make us own children and gave responsibility to share the good news, love of God with others.

Holy and Virtue Life:           

         To live holy and virtue life is a very important for Christian dignity. Our God is holy and He doesn’t like any kind of evil thing in our lives. So as Christian we need to live pure and virtue life for own Lord. It is also very important as Christian leader, because he is a model for whole society. If a Christian leader is living virtue and holy life, his congregation will impress through his life and he will be a good witness to the Lord Jesus Christ, he will be a good example for nominal and non-Christians, and he has a good testimony for evangelism to non-Christian people. Actual virtue life is true Christian life; otherwise we are not able to call as Christian. So live as holy and virtue life is Christian dignity. Richard Higginson describes, “Particular virtues are therefore seen as especially important for people in certain positions or as relevant to particular types of relationship. For instance, fidelity is often regarded as the key virtue in women, and courage as an all-important ingredient in friendship.” So Christian dignity is someone must be live virtue and holy life in every way of life as Christ teach us. Christian must not involve with women, especially, Christian leader, i.e. Bishops elder, pastor deacon, etc. must not involve with women. Paul says “the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money, he must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect” (1 Timothy 2: 2-4). This passage shows very clear the Christian dignity that not only Christian leaders need to live as virtue and holy life; rather every Christian even child must live pure and virtue life. Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes decribed, "The greatest challenge we have is to help our children recognize their dignity. St. Leo the Great, in one of his Easter homilies, expresses a wonderful truth: “Christian, remember your dignity.” As Christians, our bodies are meant for a holy purpose. They are conjoined with Christ in baptism; they destined to Resurrection on the last day. How important to help our young people appreciate the true meaning of their bodies, shaped by the virtues of their souls." Christian dignity claim that their lives be make good witness to non-Christian people. Paul says, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim. 4:16). So Christian dignity is that good Christian not saves only himself, rather he can save his hearers. St. James says, “… wash your hands, you sinner and purify your hearts, you double minded”(James 4:8). As Christian, we need to purify our heart and mind and also we need repent from our sins, because Paul and James, rather whole Bible teaches us Chrisman dignity. Virtue and pure life mean no cheating, no sexual involvement with other life, no unfaithfulness, love to others with pure hearts and God, no any kind of evil thing in your lives. If we live as virtue life our Lord Jesus promised than He will give us a gift of eternal life. No any other religions have this promise, so this is Christian dignity that we must live blameless life for Lord always.

The Christian Ministry:

        Christian ministry is also Christian dignity. St. Paul says, “That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5: 19-20). The Divine original of the Christian Ministry has already opened a view of its dignity far above any earthly honor or elevation and such as the infidel scoff can never degrade. Charles Bridges mentioned;This is a great and excellent thing, for men to be set over the Church, that they may represent the person of the Son of God. The dignity however of the sacred office belongs to a kingdom “not of this world.” It is distinguished therefore, not by the passing glitter of this world’s vanity, but by eternal results, productive, even in their present influence, of the most solid and enduring happinessned;As Christian we need always remembrance of this sacred dignity give a deeper tone of decision to our ministrations. Let it connect itself with its most responsible obligations that we disgrace not the dignity that we live under the constraint of our high calling.  Jesus says, “ You are the salt of the earth.” Let not tile salt lose its savor. He says, “You are the light of the world.” Let your light shine before men. M Douglas Meeks wrote, “The perfection of Christ can only be lived in the voluntary community of brothers and sisters. The voluntary community which is constituted by faith, discipleship and baptism is the true, visible body of Christ.”  This voluntary community, which is visible body of Christ, establish through Christian Ministry is the Christian dignity. What courage, what boldness, what freedom ought the dignity of the Ministry to give a bishop, or a pastor; not for his own interest, rather for those of the Church; not through pride, but fidelity; not while he employees carnal means, but while he makes use of the Armour of God. The ministration of the Spirit and of righteousness constitutes the chief glory of the evangelical economy. Therefore, Apostle says, after an exhibition of its pre-eminent Excellency “seeing we have this Ministry. Charles Bridges says “A sense of the dignity of our office accurately formed, carefully maintained, and habitually exercised is therefore of the highest importance. It elevates the standard of Christian consistency even in the prospective consideration and choice of the work.” So faithfulness in Ministry is Christian dignity. In the actual discharge also of duty, the mind will thus be excited to a more solid and correspond with dignity of station. The office will be magnified in perfect harmony with the lowliest personal humility and indeed never more eminently displayed than in the exercises of genuine humility. In short this is Christian dignity that we Christian through this ministry can share the love of God to non-Christian and called the ambassador of Christ.

Obedience and Faithfulness:

          Obedience and faithfulness is also a component of the Christian dignity. Obedience and faith in the Savior give power to Christian to resist all kind of temptation. Full obedience to Lord brings the complete power of the gospel into a Christian’s life with strength to focus on the abandonment of specific sins. It includes things you might not initially consider part of repentance, such as attending meetings, paying tithing, giving service and forgiving others. Richard G. Scott says, “ Through that atonement we can live in a world where absolute justice reigns in its sphere so the world will have order. But that justice is tempered through mercy attainable by obedience to the teaching of Jesus Christ.” Christ not only gives teaching about obedience and faithfulness, rather he gave practical example, and he was obedience and faithful to God Father who send him in this world for a particular purpose of salvation of the humankind. Lord Jesus’ prayer at Gethsemane shows his faithfulness to the Father. Even he gave practical example of faithfulness on the cross. He was faithful to the God Father and gave his life on the cross and accomplished to the Father’s plan of salvation.

          So, Christian dignity is that we must be faithful and obedience to God and our orginazation, and country. We must do our duties faithfully, we must be faithful to the church, we must be faith to own husband/wife, and we must be faithful and obedient to our parent. We need to be faithful to sharing the gospel to unreached people and obey to the Lord’s great commandment. Robin W. Lovin mentioned “Christian ethics and especially protestant ethics, however, link moral accountability with obedience to the command of God.” Thus, as Christian we need to faithful in our duty, in our relationship with other, obedience to Christian law as well as organizational and country law also. If we are not obedient and faithful in our work, in our relationship with others, not faithful to our country, we are loosing Christian dignity. John Simpson says, “Remember that it is today that your life will influence others, not tomorrow or next week or next year. It is the impact of this day, which will progress the cause of Christ. It is what makes this day so special, so mysterious, so full of grace, so tantalizing, so worthy of getting out of bed and entering it with wonder and anticipation.” There is a need to Christian dignity the seemingly insignificant: the casual, friendly greeting, or the thirty second affirmation of a friend, or a brief thank you note for a kind deed done all have their place in the forward movement of the Kingdom. We are always in danger of imagining that the up front exercises are the only ones which rally count. It is what happens when the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing which signal that God is actively present with us. Serve to others: serve to other is very important ingredient of Christian dignity. Serve to other is reorganization of Christianity. During serve to other, we can share the gospel of Christ to them. During own ministry Jesus serve to the people many times in different ways. He serves them by providing food, he serves them by healing, and he serves them through realizing from demons and much kind of diseases. He also gave command to disciples serve to each other. He gave good example by washing feet of disciples to serve others. According to John “So he (Jesus) got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him” (John 13:4-5).  Through serve to other we can win their heart and soul, as believer Jesus give us ministry to win the souls, this is Christian dignity. Throughout the world Christian are serving the other communities and obeying to Christ great commandment, even we can see here in Korea, with the God’s grace Korean Christians are sharing the love of God among many nominal Christian and non-Christian people, among foreigner worker, those who are mostly non-Christian, and many people came to Christ through their serving behavior. Mother Theresa’s  work in India is good example for Christian people to serve others. Rachel Day who is dentist says, “I serve the Lord by empowering my employees to achieve professional growth. He smiles because they, too, will grow to guard human dignity…. I guard human dignity and save human pride. And hopefully, they will know I am a Christian by my love.” This time, many good Christian are serving human being as missionary, they are caring them and sharing with them the word of God. I want to mention example of own school “ACTS”, which is serving many foreigner pastor and giving training them as servant of God. This is not only serving, rather they want to be joining others to serve the human being and serve to the Lord. Many Christian are serving to orphan children and disable people. I think God have a special purpose to born them disable, and that purpose is demonstrate the Christian dignity. Rachel Day says;

"We will work with each other; we will work side by side,

 and we’ll guard human dignity and save human pride:

 And they’ll know we are Christians, by our love, by our love;

 Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love." This is Christian dignity, which Rachel Day mentioned above. Through serve to other, Christians are sharing love with each other, and also the love of God, which He showed through sending his only Son in this world, so that whoever believe in him shall not perish but have eternal life. So Christian dignity is sharing the eternal life among human being.

            Besides the explaining above mentioned, honesty, truthfulness, honoring God’s Image, prevention of suffering, Stewardship of creation, nonviolence, humbleness, fairness, human dignity, healthfulness and sacrifice are called the Christian dignity. To maintain the Christian dignity, we need to be very honest in every field of our life, we need to be truthfulness, and we need to give honor to other men, because God created man on his own image. Christians have a responsibility to maintain the health of their bodies, including heir genetic health (1 Cor. 10:31). We need to be fair with others, fair in business, fair in study, fair with church, fair with friends, even fair with own enemies, because Lord give command that your love with own enemies too. We can say that Christian dignity is the fruits of Christianity, we need must be maintain these fruits and share with others, otherwise we are not able to call as Christian. Humbleness is also shows Christian dignity, Lord Jesus shows humbleness, Paul describes this in good way, he wrote “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness and be found in appearance as a man, he humble himself and became obedient to death even death on a cross” (Phil.2:6:8).

Conclusion:

        Christian dignity means to obey the teaching of the bible, commandment of the Lord and also church traditions. I conclude that Christian dignity claim from Christian, they must be honest in life, they must be served to others without any interest, they must be share the word of God among unreached people faithfully, they must be lived pure, virtue and holy life, especially Christian leader, he must not involved with women, must not involved  with corruption, must not involved with dishonesty, must not involved with cheating. His life must be the example for other people, he must be fair in relationship with others, and he must faithful to God and obeys his commands. He must be faithful to his organization, and government too. He must love to others and must share the love of God with non-Christian people. He must be faithful and honest with share the gospel to unreached people. He must put faith on Christ as personal Savior and be faithful to Lord, even in dangers and difficulties. He makes own efforts fairly to win the souls for Christ. Christian dignity have all the above explained characteristics, and as Christian we need to maintain these characteristics in our levies, otherwise we can loose the Christian dignity. Forgiveness is a very important characteristic of Christian dignity, so as Christian we always must be ready to forgive other people. We all can make mistake, but according to bible we need to forgive others mistake, and we need to guide them in the right way. As Christian we need to pray God for guidance to live holy, virtue, and fair life, which is acceptable to God. We need to give honor to others, if we maintain all these in own life, we maintain Christian dignity and if we are loosing these, we are not good Christian. We must be faithful to God our Lord in every situation of our life. If we are stand firm as faithful to the Lord we not only maintain Christian dignity, rather we deserve to get eternal life, which Lord promised with his own faithful people. May God give us Almighty power to maintain the Christian dignity and save from all kind temptation?      

 

Written by: Rev. Emanuel Khokhar (Candidate: Ph D)

Church of Pakistan (Diocese of Peshawar), NWFP. 

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Copyright @ 2005, Rev.Emanuel Khokhar.
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