God is our loving Father. The eternal plan of God is that we live our lives in Him who is Love, Light and Truth. In Him alone is hope and certainty for our future and a guarantee for an eternal life. “We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1 Jn. 5.20). We should not be alienated from the life of God, for that would result in ‘darkening of our understanding, becoming ignorant of the truth and getting hard hearted’. St. Paul writes what will be the outcome, if we lead a life which is independent of God. “They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity” (Eph. 4.18, 19). This is what paganism is. St. Paul reminds the Ephesians: “This is not the way you learned Christ!” (4.20).
Yes, there is a big difference between paganism and Christianity. We Christians are aware of the truth that we all are created in the image and likeness of God – who is Love, Truth, Generosity, Kindness, Humility, Purity and the like. Paganism stands for all that is opposite to these. Is my thinking according to what God says or what the pagan world says? When we believe what God says, we are living by Faith. Today our thinking is much more secularised and therefore there is a natural tendency to revolt and react in contradiction to what God says. Great change is required in our attitudes, feelings and convictions to abandon paganism in order to become to God’s image and likeness. To accomplish such a change we have to imitate the only model in the whole world – Jesus Christ because “He is the image of the invisible God” and in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Col. 1.15; 2. 9). St. Paul writes: “Truth is in Jesus” (Eph.4.21); “In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2. 3). He is the eternal Word of God who became man to live among us to reveal the Father to the whole humanity, in order that we live like Him.
“You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived,following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else” (Eph.2. 1-3) The two models, Pagan and Christian, are really present in this world; present in each one of us. When we look into our lives, we realise how much ‘paganism’ is there in us that we need to change into Christ-like life. So the Holy Spirit reminds us through St. Paul: “You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4. 22-24).
The people in Thessalonica realised that Christ’s message brought to them by St. Paul and Silas was turning their paganism upside down. “These people who have been turning the world upside down have come here also” (Acts. 17.6). So they did not want to accept the message. Jesus, the perfect Jew, the perfect Israelite was persecuted and crucified for living and teaching the message of the Father. Christians are persecuted in every century because they live and teach The Way of God and not the way of the world. Jesus has foretold everything: “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (Jn. 15. 18, 19). Those who have recently seen the attack by gay women activists on a Belgium archbishop for backing the Church’s teachings on homosexuality and expressing his concern for those who live the homosexual lifestyle shows how hateful the devil is towards Christians who follow The Way of the Lord. (For full story please click on the following link : Assaulted by gay activists )
But we are not frightened, for we do not belong to this world as our citizenship is in heaven. “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Mt. 10.28). We are living in the time about which Jesus had foretold: “Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father or me. But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them” (Jn. 16. 2-4)
Fr. J. Mariakumar , MaryPereira