Stead on being “a Christ”

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W.T. Stead on being “a Christ”

W. T. Stead, (Excerpted from W. T. Stead, If Christ Came to Chicago (Chicago, 1894), pp. 443-445

Be a Christ. The more you disbelieve in Christianity as it is caricatured, the more earnestly should you labor to live the life and to manifest the love and, if need be, to die the death of Jesus of Nazareth.

Even if you doubt whether He ever really lived, God Incarnate in mortal flesh, the more imperative is your duty to endeavor so far as you can, to realize in your own person that supreme embodiment of love, in order that now, if never before, there may be on earth a Messiah of God who is Love among men who are perishing for want of love.

Be a Christ!—everything is summed up in that…

Each day’s duties at home or at work, every friend whom you love, every acquaintance which you form, every occasion where a duty confronts you and every opportunity where you can manifest love by word or deed or look—there and then you can be a Christ. If you are selfish and unloving, then instead of being God’s Messiah to your fellow men you are shutting out God from a portion of His own world.

Whenever you give up yourself—your time, which is a part of your life; your thought, which is a part of your mind; your love, which is a part of your soul—to serve others, you are, so far as that sacrifice goes, manifesting God’s Love to man. For God is Love and His service is sacrifice of self in helping others.

His commandment is exceeding broad… it applies especially to a great field of human service, with which many imagine religion has nothing to do. A religion which has nothing to do with any human effort is not religion. For religion is the life of man going out of himself to unite itself to the life of other men so that they may all be one in Love, which is God.

The New Redemption for which the world has long been waiting wearily is nigh at hand. The old forms having served their turn and done their work are passing away. They hinder where they ought to help, and fail to interpret the full orbed revelation of the will of God toward us in all its bearings upon the social, political and national life of man.

“A new commandment give I unto you, that you love one another,” is still, alas, a new commandment in a world that is more or less avowedly dominated by the doctrine of Cain. The New Redemption will come when that new commandment has cast out the Evil Spirit, the Prince of this world, whose watchword is, “Each man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.” For it was the hindmost whom Christ came to save.

For this New Redemption for which the world waits, there must come a new Catholicity, transforming and widening and redeeming the old. The new religion, which is but the primitive essence of the oldest of all religions, has but one formula—Be a Christ! The new church which is already dimly becoming conscious of its own existence, under all kinds of ecclesiastical and dogmatic and agnostic concealments, is not less broad. What is the Church? It is the Union of all who Love in the Service of all who Suffer.