Sometimes there is a concept that is hard to write about. Maybe my thoughts are still too jumbled. Maybe trying to explain something in fewer than 500 words is impossible. If you read this column and sip the coffee and say, “What in the world is he talking about?” don’t worry…sometimes I say the same thing and I write it. I have the felling it will happen today.
A friend and I were having a long discussion about some issues in his life. Eventually I spewed “I think our Christianity gets in the way from time to time.” He looked at me like I had morphed into a fire-breathing zombie. I asked him to forgive me if I offended him. He insisted he was not offended.
What would make me say such a thing?
Christianity with it’s own vocabulary and concepts is very broad. I can say “grace” to one person and it is interpreted like the Corinthians “everything is permissible.” I can say “sanctification” and some will say it comes through Christ while others will say it is what we work at since our justification is by grace. Have I lost you yet?
That is my point.
Christianity has become or maybe it always has been very broad. If I were asked, “What is a Christian?” before the age of 39 my answer after belief in Jesus would have then been full of non-Biblical Christian expectations that basically focused on our morality. That answer was the time in my Christian life when I was not involved in personal ministry and my personal beliefs were formed outside the context of a real understanding of sin and grace. Once personal relationships begin (I believe the only context of Biblical ministry) my “be moral” Christianity quickly changed. Yet, I seldom ministered outside the context of the church.
In each and every one of us there is a twinge of belief that Jesus makes me a morally respectable person. There is also a twinge of belief that in the depth of my secret life I know I am not a moral person…so I keep the deep dark stuff secret. Neither one of these popular “Christian” thoughts is true. However, this becomes our functional faith. Am I making any sense yet?
So? How does this get in our way? Oh, I hope I make some sense here.
The truth…we are depraved. Even Christians, yes those things Paul calls “new creatures” are depraved. I guess that is why I like the two very popular shows “Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead.” One of their premises is that under certain conditions (extreme stress, life/death, and our own sense of success) we will not be moral. In fact, we all will do very bad things. Open the Bible…it’s clear.
The 2nd truth is that grace indeed is our only hope. There is a little catch that gives us trouble. In order for grace to abound, truth has to be a very high priority. Without truth grace will not and cannot function.
For our faith to be “of Christ” and as some proclaim “sola Christos (Christ alone)” than there is nothing we can claim…not even a sense of morality. However, what is often talked about is how we can be moral instead of how we respond to the greatest love and grace anyone will every find.
For us as Christians our faith truly is either focused on man or on Jesus. In order to grow in the love and grace of God we got to get out of the way or what we have turned “sola Christos” into has to go. Either way…sometimes “Christianity” can get in the way of God’s grace and our call to practice it. Are you confused? Be honest.