VATICAN CITY – A Christian isn't a person who simply follows some commandments, but is a person who tries to think like Christ, "act like him, love like him," Pope Francis said at his April 10 weekly general audience.
Being a Christian, he said, means allowing Jesus "to take possession of our lives and change them, transform them, free us from the darkness of evil and sin."
Jesus' death and resurrection has a practical impact on believers, "just like a house built on a foundation; if this gives out, then the whole house falls," the pope said at the audience in St. Peter's Square.
Through the resurrection, the pope said, "we are freed from slavery to sin and become children of God."
Being a child of God, a believer, isn't something Christians can set in a corner of the room and ignore most of the time, he said.
It implies a relationship with God that is deepened daily through prayer, reading the Bible, receiving the sacraments – "especially penance and the Eucharist" – and through acts of charity.
The pope told those at the audience not to listen to voices that try to tell them that God doesn't matter or give in to the temptation of "putting God aside and ourselves at the centre."
Peace and joy come from knowing one is loved by God, he said. "God is our strength. God is our hope."
Pope Francis said sadness and the temptation of despair is strong in today's world, so Christians have an obligation to be "visible, clear, brilliant signs of hope."
"How many times in our lives have our hopes been dashed? How many times have the expectations we carried in our hearts not been realized?
"Christian hope is strong, certain, solid on this earth that God has called us to walk on and is open to eternity, because this hope is built on God who is always faithful," he said.