By Ramlit Navarro
Whoever and wherever you are, you can be a witness for Christ. And being a witness for Christ means living out the core values that propelled his life and mission. These values go beyond religious parameters. The values which Christ upheld are values of the Kingdom of God – a kingdom of compassion, justice, freedom and life.
That is why, Christ or Jesus as he was historically known, always showed compassion to the outcasts and abandoned by religion and society, and justice to the oppressed and marginalized. He was a free man – free from any religious or political definitions that could stifle the kingdom values. He dedicated his life so that people might have life in abundance. He restored human dignity and saved human lives in many ways.
For Christ, life was God’s greatest gift which must be nurtured, protected and promoted. However, his values were often in conflict with religious and political laws and traditions because the same values challenged the dominant religious power and control. His vibrant and free humanity were a scandal to religious monarchs who played absolute control over people’s lives under their dominion. For them, Jesus was crazy, blasphemous, demon possessed, drunk, subversive, sinner etc. He was simply unacceptable because his ways did not match with established pious practices.
Jesus’ critical approaches to external display of sanctity and empty ritualism devoid of compassion were abominable to the eyes of the priests, teachers of the law and their fanatic sympathizers. But no religious or political superpowers could stop him from living the Kingdom values freely and fully. His main concern was to lead people to God. He made present the living God whom he called ‘Abba’. His greatest religious offense was that he claimed to be God. He died to his words. He is God. That is the man whom you and I want to give witness to.
To be an authentic witness for Christ therefore means assuming the same Kingdom values that were core principles in Christ’s life and mission. These values are anchored in God’s unconditional love with preferential option for those abandoned by religion and society. They are non-negotiable and absolute values. All the rest are relative, superficial and fleeting.
Christ lived and died in the light of the Kingdom values. One who lives and takes them to be life principles becomes a witness for Christ. In them, the witness finds meaning in life and reason for existence. Lifestyles and self-expressions may vary, faith communities may differ in style and form, but authentic witnesses must share the same central values. The authenticity of christian witnessing precisely lies in the concrete practice of compassion, justice, freedom and solidarity.