For some, I know that this post might be somewhat controversial. And that is ok with me. I wasn't born scared of confrontation, and I won't die afraid of it. The way I see it, criticism only helps you reflect upon yourself, so by the responses I get to this, I might be able to be a better person, a better Christian, and for that..... I am grateful.
I've had some really great conversations tonight with some of my best friends. I love talking to them. In fact, I love talking to them so much, I don't understand why in the world I don't call them more often! But I digress.
In some of those conversations tonight, we got on the subject of Christianity. We talked about living to please God and what that means. And it got me thinking a lot about what I have learned about being a Christian in the last 5 years that I have been one. In the last 5 years my views on what it means to be a Christian have changed quite a bit. The more I studied and prayed, the more my beliefs changed. You see, at first, I studied because I wanted to "be right." Now, I study because I want to "be holy". There is a big difference. The Christian who studies to be right, finds a book of rules. Even when God says nothing, he makes rules. He not only follows the rules to a T, but he neglects some of the other ungodly things that he has going on in his life in order to make sure that he doesn't break any of the other rules. For example, he condemns his brother for singing a song about being a "friend" to Jesus, but leaves the church building to bad mouth and gossip about "how liberal" his other brother is getting, behind his back. We pick and choose which things would be most pleasing to God. Even things that God did not address at all.
This is not to say that I do not think that God has a way that he wants us to live. He absolutely does. But for some reason I think that we are getting very close to the line of being modern day pharisees. We back bite and lie, and are entertained with vulgar movies, and make fun of people, yet we think we are in a better relationship with God than the next guy, because we only use the KJV of the Bible. Really? Where do people come up with this stuff?
In the last 5 years, if I could sum up the most important things I have learned about Christianity, it would be these 5 things:
5. God is more pleased with the Christian that does everything they can to honor and glorify Him, not everything they can to find fault in others. "So let's stop criticizing each other. Instead, you should decide never to do anything that would make other Christians have doubts or lose their faith." - Romans 14:13
4. If you love God with your entire being, and love others as much, if not more than yourself, then you will more than likely see the good in them and the heart that they have to try and do what is right. Then, when you are trying to help them strengthen their relationship with God, you will see it as an opportunity to show them God's love and not as an opportunity to prove someone wrong. "And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And He said to him, What is written in the Law? How does it read to you? He answered, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as you love yourself. Jesus told him, "You have answered correctly. 'Do this, and you will live." - Luke 10:25-28
3. You MUST read the Bible as a whole. Not just pieces. The best advice I was ever given was to think of the Bible as a how-to book on how to grow a flower. You can't just read the first page about planting the seed, shut the book, and expect it to grow. You will need to open to the second page when it tells you to water the seed. And you can't just open to the second page that tells you to water the seed, and hold it in a hand full of water and expect it to grow. The same goes with what God tries to teach us through his word. But remember, you also can't open the how-to book and decide that because the author did not tell you where to plant the seed, that you aren't suppose to plant it at all. That is why He gave us wisdom. "But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him." - James 1:5
2. I don't EVER want to be a modern day Pharisee. "Suddenly a man with a paralyzed hand appeared. The people asked Jesus if it was lawful to heal on Sabbath days, intending to accuse him of doing something wrong. But he said to them, " Is there a man among you who, if he had one sheep and it fell into a ditch on the Sabbath, wouldn't take hold of it and pull it out? How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath."Matthew 12:10-12
1. I am not a perfect person. And I can't expect anyone else to be. Just as I would want the benefit of the doubt that I am trying to live in such a way to glorify God in all that I do, we should give that same benefit of the doubt to those we love. "When they persisted in questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let the person among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." - John 8:7 "How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you don't see the beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you'll see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother's eye." - Luke 6:42
So really, before I could have my conversation with God, I would ask myself this one question. Do I live the way I live because I love God? Or do I live the way I live because someone once told me that it was the "right" way. That more rules and less love is what God wants. Because I would be considered "too conservative" if I did it one way, and "too liberal" if I did it another ? Or do I use what God tells me and my wisdom to make the right choices on how to please Him in everything I do. There is a happy medium. "In spirit & in truth." "With love and with obedience." Let's try not to jump to conclusions when someone is trying to "work out their own salvation" and start spreading rumors and throwing stones. ESPECIALLY not someone that if it were not for them, a good majority of us would not even know Christ.
And with that, I once again step down from my soapbox. Good day.