Disclaimer: If you choose to read and comment on this note, by all means, please share your thoughts/feelings. If you choose to propagate ugliness here - know ahead of time that I will not tolerate it (yes, I will be intolerant) and said comment will be deleted. <insert loving smile here> Additionally, this is not written about any one person. Not solely about myself...not about him...or her...or you. It's a conglomeration of observations and things I have been thinking/feeling for some time.
Now, I have been one – for the most part – to stand back and be quiet about much on social media, as it often seems that to speak up is to offer your VERY body to the wolves. Today, for whatever reason, I simply cannot be silent. Rest assured, I write all this from a perspective of “I have been there”.
Let’s talk about sin. We all sin (1 John 1:8). For those of us who consider ourselves to be 'Bible believing Christians', there are many things (sins) that the Lord commands us not to do [a brief caveat here: He commands us not to do these things not because He’s a masochist who wants us to suffer, but because these things very often have painful consequences]; i.e. gluttony, adultery, murder, lying, cheating, stealing, sexual immorality [yes, including homosexuality], drunkenness, and laziness.
[Before we proceed any further - I will be the first to admit that I am a sinner, thus, I will not be throwing stones. In turn, I kindly request that you drop any stones that you might’ve picked up a moment ago….]
I find that amongst the ‘Christian community’ – we have various subcultures. Some would consider themselves to be ‘firm Bible believers’, some would consider themselves to be ‘mostly Bible believing’ and some consider the Bible to be an implied, loosely defined ‘guide-book’. Something that has been pretty disheartening for me over the last few years is how often I have seen friends and leaders from my past shift from a firm, moral/spiritual belief to...nothing...or even to that of a more permissive, ‘whatever you want to do is good for you and I will applaud you’ mindset. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should be preaching hell, fire and brimstone from the street corners and condemning to hell all that walk in habitual sin (or perceived sin). Negative. We absolutely should speak truth. We absolutely should love our neighbors as we love ourselves. But neither of these mean to condone or encourage walking in sin. I, for one, am thankful for my friends who wouldn’t let me stay in my season of sin. They didn’t condemn me, but they reminded me of who I am, challenged me and pushed me to choose that higher standard [am I in or out?]. Jesus is clear in Revelation 3:16 when speaking to the church in Laodicea that to be lukewarm (neither hot nor cold) is repugnant to Him. That when we are on the fence/playing both sides/one foot in and one foot out --- it is not good for us [or those who observe our lives]. It is detrimental to us both now – and in the future. And honestly, it is so uncomfortable.
There are many people that I know who previously considered themselves to be Bible-believing Christians, who held themselves to a higher moral standard, and chose to seek righteousness in every aspect of their lives….who now don’t. There are some who are half-in and half-out, and then there are many who shirk Christianity as something their parents spoon-fed them/something that (dare I say…) they were "indoctrinated" with by their church/an institution/an internship (ahem). Considering all of these factors, I find that many of the debates/arguments that develop on social media happen because these three subcultures collide and chaos ensues. Something to consider is that when we have lived much of our life believing and touting our beliefs as 'X' and then suddenly we say we believe and tout our beliefs as 'Y'....people are going to question and want to understand the change. We live in a culture where we choose to put everything on display – and yet we get mad and lash out whenever our ‘display’ is questioned. If we are now walking in what we unashamedly used to call ‘sin’ [and the bible still calls sin] but now we say “it’s fine…I’m not hurting anyone”…doesn’t it make sense that someone might ask “why?”
I know for me …I believe what I believe largely because I have done my own studying. I have never been one to simply take something that is taught and automatically ingest it/regurgitate it as my own beliefs. I have always been a more cynical and leery than most. My youth Pastor in high school had this great way of responding to my questions with “Well Tara, what does the Bible say?” and if I didn’t know – he would encourage me to go seek it out for myself, and come back and present my findings. THAT was great training for me. They taught the same thing when I went through the Honor Academy. I recall Dave Hasz (the director) encouraging us to ask questions, and seek out the answers for ourselves – not just taking what he or anyone else said as truth. […] Don’t get me wrong. I went through the collegiate season of ‘finding myself’. I studied Freud, and Darwin. I took the ‘Human Evolutions’ class and listened intently to my anthropology professor who grew up with missionary parents, and believed that he could be a Christian and an evolutionist at the same time by ‘simply disregarding the first few chapters of Genesis’. I have sought wholeness and satisfaction in so many things under the sun…but, nothing has ever fulfilled me, nothing has ever made so much sense, and NOTHING has ever changed my very life like Jesus did in November of 2004.
I guess the point of this entry is two-fold:
1. I would challenge us all – yes, myself included-to keep in mind that not every question that is asked about our lifestyle, our beliefs, our views is asked in judgment or with ill intent. Sometimes people are just seeking to understand, and maybe go about it the wrong way. Sometimes, yes, it may be judgment…sometimes it may be malicious, but not always. I would encourage us all not to respond to any of the aforementioned with name calling, anger or rudeness…but to respond with love. Break out of the norm, and respond to ignorance or ugliness in love…in grace…in mercy.
2. It is said that as Christians, we will be known by our love for one another (John 13:35) and the fruit in our lives (Matt. 13:33-37). If these two things aren’t lining up…we must check ourselves [yes, I’m checking myself]. So, where are you standing, spiritually? If you were once a Bible-believing Christian who sought righteousness in everything…but not so much now, ask yourself ‘why?’ And consider…what does the road look like that took you from ‘X’ to 'Y’? Because at the crux of it -- nothing ever "just happens"; there’s always a path, always an influence, always a motive. Ask yourself, “Am I where I want to be? Am I who I want to be? Am I satisfied with my lifestyle and where I’m heading?”
I’ll end this with a quote, from the one and only C.S. Lewis: