I took a chance last week and suggested that we may have got it wrong when it comes to our approach to telling others about Christ. So far no death threats, no mass unfollowing of my blog and more importantly no one came up with a Biblically strong argument that suggested that I got it all wrong. This week I thought I would take an even bigger chance and address something I think we have got wrong. What I am about to suggest goes against what has been considered conventional wisdom for quite some time. Even more dangerous, what I am about to say can be easily twisted to make it look like I support sinful acts rather than have problems with the way we have tried to address them. As I look at the state of North American Christianity I have to wonder if we have gotten it all wrong.
I am afraid to say this but I think it must be said.
No law has ever created a Christ follower. I would even go as far as to say Christianity has suffered because the culture and laws created have become a replacement for the transformation of thought and actions that is central to anyone who fully embraces Jesus. Before I go any further let me state that I believe the Bible is clear when it comes to sexual activity outside of God’s intentions for His creation. I also believe that the Bible is clear when it comes to ending a life. That being said I am not sure that the level of energy we put into fighting abortion and LGBTQ2 issues have been effective. Maybe we have it all wrong.
I want a world where the Bible is the only guide for living.
We live in a world that is far from it. History has shown that countries/empires that have proclaimed their loyalty to the God of the Bible have ended up further away from God. The laws enacted have been a reflection of the belief system of those who made the laws but by the third or fourth generation the laws are just that, laws. God is not personally known or experienced but rather He is explained through the culture, laws of the land and the way of life that has become the norm. People start asking why, why do these laws limit us? Why do we follow a system designed around a belief system we don’t share? Why can’t I/we live the way we want to live? Maybe we have it all wrong.
Saul became Paul by meeting Jesus personally.
Saul’s actions were legal. His persecution of those who belonged to the sect called The Way had the approval of both the religious and political leaders of his time. He was convinced that he was doing the right thing until he met Jesus. Saul became [the person we known as*] Paul not because of the prevailing culture and laws but in spite of them. If each generation was introduced to God not through laws that lack any personal connection but through relationship with the One who defines right and wrong, maybe things would change. Maybe we have it all wrong.
It grieves God when we sin.
Sin separates us from God. Jesus through His death conquered sin and reconciles us with God if we are willing to put our faith in Him. The price paid was too high for us to create a culture of Christian laws without introducing anyone to Christ. Our fate is sealed by sin no matter what laws we pass and follow. If we truly love our neighbour and love God how can we be more interested in forming a Christian culture than we are in others forming a relationship with God? Maybe we have it all wrong.
With all the attention paid to numerical church growth…
…it amazes me that we hear more about politics and Christian based legislation than actually reaching people with the transformational message of the gospel. The North American church has had an obsession with butts in pews and legislation that matches our Christian values and morals. We are so obsessed that we have become blinded to the fact that transformation would put butts in the pews and lead to people living out Christian values and morals regardless of the legislation. Maybe we have it all wrong.
Before you think that I have it all wrong…
…I am not a supporter of alternative lifestyles or abortion but I am a strong believer that Christ not legislation is the way to change the world around us. Sin is the free pass into eternal torment. Jesus is the free pass into eternal life. Laws are reflections of the values and morals of those who create/support them not a reflection of the hearts of those forced to obey them. Change laws or change lives; which should we put most of our resources into? Hint; one creates the appearance of godliness, the other leads to Godliness – Maybe we have it all wrong.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 (NIV)
*The use of “Saul becoming Paul” was strictly a reference to the change in the person he was. When referring to his life story historically the name Saul has been used for the pre-encounter Paul and Paul has been used for the post-encounter Saul. This, for most, would be the take away from the statement “Saul became Paul” however due to a question about my biblical literacy I have added “[the person we known as]” after “Saul becoming” in the 4th paragraph – I hope this has not interfered with the message that God changes through encounter not legislation.