Even in religion I think we shall find that there is nothing greater or more important than this great principle of service, helpfulness, kindliness, and love. Is not Christianity, you ask, greater or more important? Why, bless you, is this any other than Christianity, is Christianity any other than this,–at least, if we take what the Master Teacher himself has said? For what, let us ask, is a Christian,–the real, not merely in name? A follower of Christ, one who does as he did, one who lives as he lived. And, again, who was Christ? He that healed the sick, clothed the naked, bound up the broken-hearted, sustained and encouraged the weak, the faltering, befriended and aided the poor, the needy, condemned the proud and the selfish, taught the people to live nobly, truly, grandly, to live in their higher, diviner selves, that the greatest among them should be their servant, and that his followers were those who lived as he lived. He spent all his time in the service of humanity. He gave his whole life in this way. He it was who went about doing good.
Is it your desire then, to be numbered among his followers, to bear that blessed name, the name “Christian”? Then sit at his feet, and learn of him, love him, do as he did, as he taught you to do, live as he lived, as he taught you to live, and you are a Christian, and not unless you do. True Christianity can be found in no other way.
Naught is the difference what one may call himself; for many call themselves by this name to whom Christ says it will one day be said, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye cursed.” Naught is the difference what creeds one may subscribe to, what rites and ceremonies he may observe, how loud and how numerous his professions may be. All of these are but as a vain mockery, unless he _is_ a Christian; and to be a Christian is, as we have found, to be a follower of Christ, to do as he did, to live as he lived. Then live the Christ life. Live so as to become at one with God, and dwell continually in this blessed at-one-ment. The trouble all along has been that so many have mistaken the mere person of the Christ, the mere physical Jesus, for his life, his spirit, his teachings, and have succeeded in getting no farther than this as yet, except in cases here and there.
Now and then a rare soul rises up, one with great power, great inspiration, and we wonder at his great power, his great inspiration, why it is. When we look deeply enough, however, we will find that one great fact will answer the question every time. It is living the life that brings the power. He is living the Christ life, not merely standing afar off and looking at it, admiring it, and saying, Yes, I believe, I believe, and ending it there. In other words, he has found the kingdom of heaven. He has found that it is not a place, but a condition; and the song continually arising from his heart is, There is joy, only joy.
The Master, you remember, said: “Seek ye not for the kingdom of heaven in tabernacles or in houses made with hands. Know ye not that the kingdom of heaven is within you?” He told in plain words where and how to find it. He then told how to find _all other_ things, when he said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven, and all these other things shall be added unto you.” Now, do you wonder at his power, his inspiration, his abundance of all things? The trouble with so many is that they act as if they do not believe what the Master said. They do not take him at his word. They say one thing: they do another. Their acts give the lie to their words. Instead of taking him at his word, and living as if they had faith in him, they prefer to follow a series of old, outgrown, man-made theories, traditions, forms, ceremonies, and seem to be satisfied with the results. No, _to be a Christian is to live the Christ life_, the life of him who went about doing good, the life of him who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.
We will find that this mighty principle of love and service is the greatest to live by in this life, and also one of the gates whereby all who would must enter the kingdom of heaven.
Again we have the Master’s words. In his own and only description of the last judgment, after speaking of the Son of Man coming in all his glory and all the holy angels with him, of his sitting on the throne of his glory with all nations gathered before him, of the separation of this gathered multitude into two parts, the one on his right, the other on his left, he says: “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we _thee_ an hungered, and fed _thee_? or thirsty, and gave _thee_ drink? When saw we _thee_ a stranger, and took _thee_ in? or naked, and clothed _thee_? Or when saw we _thee_ sick, or in prison, and came unto _thee_? And the King shall answer, and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, _Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me_.