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Archbishop Livingstone Nkoyooyo's New Year Message

Jan 04, 2003 08:48 AM EST

Today is the day when we celebrate the beginning of the New Year. Each one of us has taken inventory of his past life and are making various commitments for the new Year. We as Christians have also have also made resolutions for the New Year, in our quest for a meaningful and authentic Christian life.

One of the great themes of the teaching of Jesus, and most especially as presented to us by Matthew, are the dangers of nominal Christian life. In Mat. 7:5-17, the focus therefore is on false prophets, whose test for authenticity lies in the moral quality.

Even before the coming of Christ, John was hammering home the same message-Mat. 3: 7-10. He warned people who came for baptism that they should bear fruits worthy of repentance. Adding that it was no use claiming that they are descendants of Abraham.

As we usher in the New year and also make various resolutions to improve on our Christian lives further, may we seek to make meaningful and authentic commitments.

The perpetual war in the North by the Lord's Resistance army led by rebel leader, Joseph Kony is a case of nominal Christian life. Joseph Kony a Christian says he is fighting the Government in Gulu and Arua towns in order to restore the Ten commandments-and the war has now lasted over 15 years claiming countless civilian lives!

In the West of Uganda, it is also not any different. There is a revolt in the Diocese of Muhabura where Christians have rejected Bishop elect, Canon Sebuhinja David and have gone ahead to burn down the retiring Bishop Ernest Shalita's house whom they accuse of betrayal.

May the year 2003 be a year when we seek to make good deeds and living a righteous life central to our resolutions this year. James uses a clear metaphor of a body. Faith without works, he said; is as dead as the body without the Spirit! Jas. 2:17

Reformation in the sixteenth Century was largely fought over the issue of good deeds versus faith. Surely, we are saved by grace and not by good deeds, they argued. Adding that probably there was a contradiction between Pauline letters like Galatians and the Catholic letters like James.

Yet really there is no contradiction here. Jesus calls each one of us to repent and believe in him. And when we do, we receive the forgiveness of God and the gift of eternal life. In the language of the synoptic gospels, we become the children of the Kingdom. Evidence for this redemption is not in the verbal profession, it is in the verbal practicality.

David Winter in his book, the Millennium has said, good deeds are the evidence of faith as the stars are the evidence of the night.

The Most Revd Livingstone Nkoyooyo