Beliefs and Practices of Christians

WHAT ARE THE RELIGIOUS DUTIES AND PRACTICES OF CHRISTIANS?

Since the worship of Christians differs in some respects from that of followers of other religions, it has sometimes been mistakenly suppose that Christians have no religious duties. However I want to make it quite clear that the purpose of worship of Christians is not to earn salvation and forgiveness of sins. As I have explained above, salvation cannot be bought by anything we do, but is given to us freely by God when we believe in Christ. Hence, we worship God not in order to gain salvation, but in order to show our love and gratitude to Him for His gift of salvation to us. Let me tell you briefly about Christian worship.

PRAYER

Jesus did not give to His followers prayers which they must repeat daily at fixed times in the Hebrew or Greek languages as they face a certain direction. Instead, He told them to come to God as children would come to their father , at whatever time or place they wished, and speak to Him out of their hearts in their Moses other tongue. The form of prayer is not important, but it is essential that we worship God sincerely and with our minds and hearts. Christians pray when they meet together with other believers in their church buildings, with their families at home and silently when going about their daily work. Many Christians have the habit of reading a portion of the Bible and praying in private each day.  In their prayers they thank God for His many gifts, they confess their sins and seek forgiveness, and they pray for the healing of the sick and for the salvation of unbelievers. They also pray for their rulers, and for the peace of the world. Jesus said we must always pray. Since Sunday was the day on which Jesus Christ rose from the dead, every Sunday is a holy day for Christians. Usually worship in the churches is conducted Sunday, and often on other days also. In the church worship the Bible is read, sacred songs are sung, and a sermon is preached by the minister.  If you would like to attend a meeting for Christian worship perhaps one of your Christian friends would take you to his church with him.

FASTING

Jesus Christ did not appoint any special days or times of fasting for His followers, hence, fasting is optional for them. However, He told them that whenever they fasted theft should do this to please God and not, like the hypocrites, to get glory from men. Some Christians refrain from eating meat on Friday as this is the day on which Jesus was crucified.  Others refrain from eating certain food during Luke "Lent", Jesus the forty weekdays prior to Easter, the festival of the resurrection of Christ. These customs were not commanded in the Bible but it was commanded that we refrain from doing and saying all evil things. And I will add here this teaching of Christ namely that all foods are clean and lawful. He said that what makes a person unclean is not what goes into his mouth but the evil which comes out of his heart, such as adultery, stealing, killing, envy, pride, etc.

ALMSGIVING

Jesus did not appoint a fixed proportion of one's income or capital which should be given by Christians to the work of God and to the poor.  However, He taught that all we have belongs to God and we should use our money be it little or much, as God directs. Christians therefore express their gratitude to God by giving willingly of what He has entrusted to them to support their pastors and the work of their churches to help the poor and the sick, and to send the Good News of Christ to people who have not heart it. Christ said His followers should give generously to please God and many give one tenth of their income to God but not in order to get honor and praised from me.

PILGRIMAGES

Jesus Christ did not command His followers to go on pilgrimage to any holy place, for God is everywhere and one may worship Him in every place. Some Christians like to visit Palestine and see the land where Jesus lived, but going there has no religious merit. It is impossible to honor the body of Christ by visiting His tomb for it is empty - He is alive!!

FESTIVALS

Jesus did not command that certain feast days be observed by His followers. However, Christians usually observed least three important feasts, first there is Christmas, the feast of the birth of Jesus Christ. Most Christians observe Christmas on December 25, but some observe it on January 6. However the exact date of Christ's birth is not known. The second feast is Easter, when Christians rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The date of Easter, being at full moon, varies from year to year, but it always comes in March or April. Then there is the feast of Pentecost when we remember the gift of the Holy Spirit to Christ's disciples, seven weeks after His resurrection. These are all religious festivals. New Year (January 1) is a civil and not a Christian festival.

HOLY RITES (SACRAMENTS)

Jesus appointed two rites to be observed in His Church. The first is Baptism, which I have already described. It is the rite of admission to membership in the Church. (See section XIII). The second is Holy Communion, also called the Lord's Supper. On the night before His crucifixion Jesus Christ gave bread to His apostles saying, "This is my body." He also gave a cup of wine, saying, "This is my blood". Jesus used the bread and wine as symbols of His body and blood. And He commanded His followers to observe this rite in memory of Him. In most of the churches throughout the whole world this command is now obeyed.  Christians gather in their places of worship and each takes a bit of bread and a sip of grape juice, remembering Christ's death for them, and receiving His strength by faith in their hearts. Christians receive great spiritual blessing from this holy rite.

MARRIAGE

According to the command of Jesus Christ one man and one woman are to be united in marriage, and are to love one another and be faithful to one another as long as they live Jesus said, "What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder." Divorce is therefore forbidden, except in the event of adultery. The Apostle Paul has written that the love between husband and wife should be similar to that which is between Christ and His people.