Pope Francis recently emphasized the Christianity is about serving others with Christ-like humility--not applying "makeup" to your soul to make it artificially prettier.
"To be Christian is to do what Jesus did -- serve," he said in a homily Thursday during Mass in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
Thinking about oneself and being self-centered "is a sin, it's a habit we have to break," he said, according to Vatican Radio, NCR Online reports. Just ask for forgiveness and pray "that the Lord convert us," the pontiff explained.
"To be Christian isn't about appearances or social conduct, it isn't putting a bit of makeup on the soul so that it's a little more beautiful," he said.
As Christ continually served others during his short time on earth, Christian should strive to do likewise, the pope said, emphasizing the importance of asking oneself, "Do I have others serve me, do I take advantage of others, the community, the parish, my family, my friends or do I serve, am I at the service" of others?"
He went on to explain that being Christian is also about understanding that one is part of a larger community on a journey with God, not an individual whose spirituality is concocted in a laboratory.
"God has made His people walk for centuries in order to reach" maturity, "the fullness of time," he said. "Our history must take on saints and sinners. It is my personal history, everyone's, it must take on our sin."
Francis ended with a note of encouragement, reminding Christians that "God's grace is always there" because He is "with us, accompanying us in [our] sin in order to forgive and accompanying us in grace. There is no Christian identity without history."
Pope Francis, who became the leader of the Catholic Church nearly two years ago, is viewed favorably by Catholics and Protestants alike, according to a recent poll.
The latest Pew Research Center Survey found that while the Pope is most widely admired by Catholics (90%), an impressive six-in-ten Protestants and two-thirds of the religiously unaffiliated also view him with "great favor." According to NBC, the Pope's popularity has eclipsed any numbers his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, ever posted and puts him on par with Pope John Paul II in the 1980s and 1990s.
Writing for Christianity Today, author R.R. Reno argues that the reason for Pope Francis' massive popularity is partially due to his ability to "reframe the classic doctrine and morals of the Catholic Church so that a secular world can be converted and adhere to them." Reno adds, "Evangelical Protestants, who today find themselves aligned with Catholics on many cultural issues-especially issues of life, marriage, and human sexuality-can welcome these reform efforts. In fact, they need a healthy Catholic Church as an ally. As we see a secular vision of morality and civic life grow aggressive and hostile, we are going to need each other."
Writes TIME Magazine journalist Nancy Gibbs, "The fascination with Francis even outside his flock gives him an opportunity that his predecessor, Benedict XVI, never had-to magnify the message of the church and its power to do great good."