What it means to be a Christian, you might ask? What is its Praxis (a process where an idea is reflected, embodied, and realized in concrete actions)?
Like many Christians and perhaps non-Christians, I have been asking that question all the days of my Christian life. Going to church, reading His Word, serving in a ministry, being a good person, fighting for people’s rights, obeying the authorities, following Christ, avoiding sin, etc.
And yet, if you analyze those answers carefully, you might think that those answers are very functional – those answers cover only certain areas of life while life is, of course, greater than the sum of those parts.
Because it turns out, that perhaps when is doing all of those pious things above, he/she might not be a Christian. Probably he/she is just being moral and that’s it. Probably he/she is doing what’s expected of a social construct and that’s it. Probably he/she is just pleasing his/her own hunches and yet hunches itself might be wrong.
So, is there any definitive statement what a Christian ought to be?
For this question, I have to turn in to the linguistic and theological brilliance of C.S. Lewis, whose book God in the Dock I am currently reading. The book is filled with a lot of his essays on various topics, and included within also a set of Q&A from many believers and unbelievers of his time. Verbatim:
QUESTIONER: Will you please say how you would define a practicing Christian? Are there any other varieties?
LEWIS: Certainly there are a great many other varieties. It depends, of course, on what you mean by ‘practicing Christian’. IF you mean one who has practiced Christianity in every respect at every moment of his life, then there is only One on record – Christ Himself. In that sense, there are no practicing Christians, but only Christians who, in varying degrees, try to practice it and fail in varying degrees and then start again. A perfect practice of Christianity would, of course, consist in a perfect imitation of the life of Christ – I mean, in so far as it was applicable in one’s own particular circumstances. Not in an idiotic sense – it doesn’t mean that every Christian should grow a beard, or be a bachelor, or become a traveling preacher. It means that every single act and feeling, every experience, whether pleasant or unpleasant, must be referred to God. It means looking at everything as something that comes from Him, and always looking to Him and asking His will first, and saying: ‘How would He wish me to deal with this?‘
The bolded section above was my own emphasis. I would like to stress how Lewis negates the usual absolute binary (practicing Christian / non-practicing Christian). He used the term ‘degrees’ which really captures the relative world we live in. He accommodates the sinful condition we live in and by that fact, we can’t truly live a perfect Christian life as Christ lived. The Christian life is concrete and not effortless.
Furthermore, it also stresses the relational aspect of a Christian’s life. As Christians, we are not to resort solely to our frail humanity, but to resort to our relation to Him, constantly asking, beckoning, confirming, clarifying, while at the same time live in complete obedience to His will.
It is a life full of struggle. It is a life of cross-bearing. It is a life of sacrifice.
To close this whole blog, I think it is safe for me to put Christian Praxis as:
To live as Christlike as possible, as Christ would in your condition.