I’ve been a Christian 4 years. It’s without a doubt the best thing to ever happen to me, and was followed a week after to the second best thing to happen to me, Lindsay, but that’s another story…
I feel, much like with driving, its only when you become a Christian that you actually start to understand what its about and/or apply it. God calls as we are, and says we will be happier if we change.
The problem I’ve had the last few years is what this change is. Jesus says, treating others well and honouring God. The Ten Commandments make various rules. The Letters, such as Romans or Galatians seem to suggest some other rules.
I would be surprised if really any Christian had problems with the first set of changes, in concept anyway. They are, without a doubt, the hardest, to be, ultimately, wholly selfless and sacrificial, whilst remaining humble. Most non-Christians agree, even if they think there is no God, that Jesus’ commands are, at the least, a good moral code by which to live your life.
The Ten Commandments aren’t talked about as much any more, in Christian or secular communities. I think, the language used and the seeming precision of these “rules” mean it isn’t really hard to keep them, or so we think, and that they are hard to get to grips with. In reality, they are complex, and with a little context and consideration, they apply to almost every area of our life. However, they are pretty much all implied by Jesus’ commands. If you ever want to understand this a little better, Christian or nay, I recommend J.John’s book “Ten”, one of the few Christian books I’ve read, and even fewer I’ve enjoyed.
Finally, we have the “rules” in the Letters. Permitted things include sexual immorality (taken to mean adultery by some, pedophilia by others, rape by others, and kissing before you are married by others), drunkenness (taken to mean the consumption of alcohol by some, observable changes due to alcohol by some, and being physically sick by others), homosexuality (meaning attraction to the other sex, relationships with the other sex or intercourse with the other sex). As you can see, from these three examples, some of the laws written in the Letters aren’t particularly specific, and are hard to judge individual cases as right or wrong.
However, these seem to be the things its perfectly acceptable for people in the church, be they close to you or not, to come up to you and inform you that you are doing wrong. It’s ironic that you rarely (although, as you may have seen, I did, and am grateful, from a comment from Mr Weir) are told that you should be more loving, but people are happy to inform you of your sinful opinions towards homosexuals, your ignorance of scripture, your lack of faith for not considering the Bible to be the literal Word of God, or how much time you spend alone with your girlfriend.
From personal experience, these things seem to have little or no scriptural backing, and, when they do, they are based purely on interpretation, usually of the Letters, which, some, myself included, take as the words of very wise, great Christians, ministers and evangelists, but not the direct words of God.
I guess I’m just frustrated that I’ve had 4 years of being told what to do and not what to do, and to feel that I can’t reveal parts of my life to certain people, due to fear, not of God’s judgement, but of Christian judgement and being chastised in Christian circles. Especially as a relatively new Christian, this behaviour tends to make me just want to run away and not talk to other Christians any more.
I just think, perhaps, that this is because its easier. It’s easier to tick the boxes of not being gay, going to Church every Sunday, praying every day, reading your Bible every day, never swearing than it is to be sacrificial to God and to others. To do that requires far more humility, and ultimately makes you realise just how far you fall short of what standards God expects of us. This may be why the church is declining. It’s not always place of faith and love, sometimes they are places of oneupmanship and judgement, where not blinding accepting the Bible, without context, or the minister, is seen as being as being more wrong than breaking Jesus’ commands.
I don’t know what to do about this. I’m guilty of it myself. Personally, I just think we, as Christians, should reserve judgement for our OWN LIVES, and give our opinions, but ensure they are clearly indicated to be opinions based on your or your minister’s INTERPRETATION of the TRANSLATED Bible. As far as I’m concerned, its good to try and keep the “rules” from the Letters, but lets not get carried away and make them more important than Love, as, ultimately, Love and Grace are two words that sum up Jesus’ life, and his commands for us.
The only way to deal with ourselves, the only way to evangelise, the only way to serve God, the only way to serve others, the only way to satisfaction, the only way to change the world, Christian and not alike, is Love, be you a Christian or a not. Not love like Hollywood says, but love that puts all others before itself.