In a recent interview, Pope Francis talked about being truthful to the teachings and practices of Christianity.
“If you’re a Christian who exploits people, leads a double life or manages a ‘dirty’ business, perhaps it’s better not to call yourself a believer,” Francis said. This comes as a sharp contrast between much of Christian theology, as his statement implies that works do not determine salvation, but rather belief alone.
Religion should be followed and acted upon if it is to be a force for good in the world. However, it is often used as justification for reprehensible actions that harm others. This is not to say that only Christians must have the mindset of putting into practice the teachings of religion, but that to be a practitioner of a religion, one must be pious not only in words, but in deeds.
Pope Francis also said many Christians scandalize others with their double-life practices, including fraudulent business leaders, teachers who perturb students and manipulators who discourage others from following righteous principles.
To call yourself a believer, you must live the life of a believer. This is not to say that you must be perfect, but it is to say that you must try earnestly to better others and yourself. We must not allow injustice to be perpetuated in the name of higher powers.
It is dangerous for individuals to twist the meaning of religion to correspond to their worldviews. Religion should not be used to stifle science, education or opportunity. This perversion of religion only serves to give ammunition to people who blame religion for the atrocities in the world, when the true culprit is greed. We must use religion as a tool to advance ourselves spiritually.
Religion is a well, and it spiritually brings us the water that feeds our moral and loving nature.
“To be a Christian means to do: to do the will of God — and on the last day — because all of us we will have one — that day what shall the Lord ask us? Will He say: ‘What you have said about me?’ No. He shall ask us about the things we did,” Francis said.
This concept can be applied not just to Christians, but to every practitioner of any belief system. We must actively fight against injustice, prejudice and inequity.
“Let deeds not words be our adorning,” Francis said.
Opinion columnist Adib Shafipour is a biochemistry sophomore and can be reached [email protected]