Very many leaders of churches think that by baptizing persons, preaching to them, giving them the sacraments, whether two or seven, having them attend church services, whether preaching or worship services, or Mass, and giving them social services such as food, clothing, shelter, education and health, very many of these church leaders think that by doing so they are giving Christ to these persons. They think that by these activities they are contributing to the spiritual development of these persons.
What we are saying here applies especially to young people because they are idealistic, are in the prime of their health and vigor and are easily challenged. But we do not exclude older people. After all, there are almost the same number or more of older people to whom the real Christ has not been given. It is possible that there are more older people who are not spiritually developed as the young people.
If the activities we cited above gave the real Christ to these people, we would not have so many baptized convicted criminals crowding our prison cells, especially in developing countries, like the Philippines. The fact of the matter is that our church leaders and we church followers are not giving the real Christ to others. Instead we are giving them what we think is the Christ. The people whom we baptized have not really been given genuine spiritual development.
There is a world of difference between the real Christ and the Christ that we think he is. It is like the difference between the real genuine bill of exchange, let’s say a dollar, and what we think is real money but is fake and useless as a means of exchange. The first we can make use of, the other can deceive us.
So, let us go back to the meaning of our title: How do we give the real Christ to young people?
In the first place we are faced with a serious difficultly, in fact an impossibility. This is because no one can give the real Christ except Christ himself. No other person can. A comparison may help to make this clear.
Giving Christ is not like giving something to people. It is not like giving candies to children. Christ is not a thing but a person and none can give the person except the person himself.
When I gave my self to my wife it was I who gave my self to her. This is because my self is a person. I did not just five her a ring or any other token of my love. Some one else can give her a ring or another other token, but nobody can give her myself except myself.
If what was given to my wife was only an idea about me, others can do that. My parents, brothers and sisters, my relatives and friends can give ideas about me to my wife, but they can never give my person. Only I can give that, my self, my person.
In the same way, pastors, priests, Bible women, catechists, all other kinds of churched ministers and church leaders can give all sorts of ideas about Christ to our young people, but they can never give them the person of Christ. That is for Christ himself to give and none other.
Now you may object: How can Christ do this since he lived a long time ago and has already left our planet earth? Yes, he has left physically but he has sent his Spirit to live and work among us and this Spirit is forming Christ again in the lives of people.
The truth is that Christ has already given himself to us through his death and resurrection. And after he left us physically he sent his Spirit to give his Spirit to us.
So the first step for us if we are going to give the real Christ to young peoples is to allow the Sprit of Christ to give Christ to these young people. Only the spirit of Christ can do this because Christ is a person.
And we allow Christ’s Spirit to give the real Christ to these young people if we give ourselves to this Spirit to be formed into Christ. To the extent that Christ is formed in us, to that degree do we give Christ to the young people. We cannot give what we do not have and we cannot give Christ to the young if we do not have Christ in our person, not just in our thoughts, words and actions but in our very own person, in the core and totality of our being. We cannot give the real Christ to others if we ourselves, as it were, have not become real Christ ourselves through the transforming power of Christ’s Spirit.