The Choice That Ultimately Determines Other Choices
We’re approaching a discussion on what is expressly forbidden by the word of God. That is where the rubber essentially meets the road. One can not truly discuss Christianity without eventually discussing those things that are expressly forbidden.
Before I begin considering this matter, I must first take a step back and ask why any organization would need rules. It seems silly for me to have to do this, but it is actually necessary. You see, when a college star joins the NFL, he agrees to follow the NFL Code of Conduct. No one blinks. When a young person decides to join the military, they swear to uphold the Constitution and obey the Uniform Code of Military Justice. No one blinks. My point is that people freely join groups, and they accept the boundaries that group places on them. When one decides to work somewhere, there are rules and policies in place that everyone at that place of business is required to follow. No one blinks.
But ask a Christian what is right in accordance to their faith, and suddenly people climb out of the wood work to talk about how right or wrong these rules are. I won’t deny that some people who claim to be Christian make this situation more difficult. This is because the Bible doesn’t exactly have a long list of expressed sins. It really doesn’t! I’m not even talking about those sins that are currently hot debates in today’s society. I’m currently talking about people adding to faith, which ironically is a sin in and of itself. That’s right. Adding to the word of God is a sin, so anyone who adds a burden to the faith that isn’t expressly forbidden by the word of God is actually a violation of the word of God.
It frustrates me when people try to use my faith as a platform to push their own agenda. It’s ugly. A Christian’s primary duty is to love God. Then there are those who seek to be God’s avenger. God doesn’t need an avenger. Vengeance belongs to him. He’s perfectly capable of meting out justice, and He’s even ordained the day when he will separate the saved from the damned. I don’t have any business punishing people for what they do. However, those God places in authority are responsible for upholding the law. God granted them full authority to judge and prosecute offenders. He ordained this in Exodus and confirmed this ordinance in Romans (among other sections of the Bible).
I’m just a guy, so it’s not my job to judge anyone—except myself and my family. This is because I am the head of my family, and I am responsible for my own actions. No, I won’t attempt to punish anyone who violates an expressed Biblical command unless that person is a member of my family, and even then, just as God has granted me mercy through Christ, I too may be merciful if I deem it appropriate. Any parent can punish a child for, say, not doing homework. Or a parent could simply rebuke the child and leave it there. This is an example of my point.
When I sin, sometimes my wife (or another brother or sister in Christ) lovingly rebukes my sin. It’s never fun, but I respect those rebukes because I respect the faith. People sometimes balk, and rightly so, at some of the “rules” churches put on their congregation. For me, the rules a church has should be based on the word of God and nothing else. This is one reason I love my church so much. It takes Biblical discipline very seriously. It’s also very careful what rules it enforces.
What might scare some people is that some organizations have rules and forces others to follow them. They’re called cults. But there is a difference between a cult, which seeks to dominate and possess people, and any other sane organization. A cult seeks to possess and own. I can leave my church tomorrow, and nothing would change except the place in which I choose to worship. Even Christ gave people the choice. They could choose to follow Him or not.
What happens, however, is that even non Christians understand the implication of those words. Christians, as I mentioned in an earlier chapter, believe that Christ is the only way to Heaven. Therefore, those who don’t follow Christ aren’t going. It’s as simple as that.
If I’m wrong, I’m doomed anyway, and what does it do to anyone else? I’ve mentioned this several times, so it’s time to look at it from another perspective.
Ultimately every person must decide what he or she believes. Is Christianity right or wrong? One must choose.
Those who choose Christianity is wrong can do whatever it is they want. They can choose another religion, but they must then submit to the rules of that religion. One day, we’ll die and figure out who was right. My point is, if one decides Christianity is wrong, they are completely at liberty to do whatever it is they decide to do within the confines of the civilization in which they live. Of course, no American is free to walk around murdering people. That’s against the laws of this nation. But they may choose to do things that violate Christian law so long as it doesn’t violate state or federal law.
If they’re wrong, they’re doomed just as I am doomed if I am wrong.
Those people who choose Christianity is wrong may simply choose to follow no religion at all. They can do whatever is right in their own eyes. They’re still at the mercy of the state and federal laws of wherever they live, but the rest is a decision they hold the right to choose.
If they’re wrong, they’re doomed just as I am doomed if I am wrong.
Those who choose Christianity is right must then submit to the rules established by God’s word. How can one say, “I truly believe Christ is the only way into Heaven,” and then do things Christ expressly forbids? The one who makes this choice must realize and accept that following Him is a decision they’ve already made.
That creates a lot of pressure from one point of view, but we remember that Christ isn’t just our master. He’s also our advocate. When we sin, just as any sin must be paid for, we can realized that Christ has already paid for that sin. When we’re tempted, we can turn to Christ for strength because He also was tempted (see Matthew Chapter 4). Even when we fail, we can still turn to Him for mercy and forgiveness because He understands what it means to be tempted. We don’t sin without remorse because we want to be like Him, but we rejoice in his forgiveness because He has paid for our sins and speaks on our behalf with the Father.
All of this is only relevant if one chooses Christianity as their faith. That single choice demands the rest of these ideals also be accepted.
If Christianity is wrong, Christians are doomed just as others are doomed if they are wrong.
I have to establish this before I can discus other, more emotionally charged, topics. If you are one who passionately believes Christianity is wrong, then the rules of a Christian life are naturally going to be equally abhorrent to you. But if one takes a step back and says, “He’s a Christian, so he’s going to believe these things,” one can choose to either listen for understanding or walk away because they already know they disagree with the principle any Christian should stand on.
However, if one chooses Christianity is right, then those things Christ expressly forbids must be accepted and avoided.
I don’t know how many atheists really balk at Christian values. I really don’t. But I’ve seen plenty of Christians argue over Biblical law. That’s the thing I don’t understand. If you don’t want to follow Christian laws, then don’t be a Christian. I’m not casting anyone out of anything. I’m not “kicking you out” of the club or “turning my back” on you.
Two people sit down to a game of cards. The game goes on for a while until a man makes a play that’s illegal.
“You can’t do that,” the first man says.
“Why not?” the opponent asks.
“Because it’s against the rules,” the first man explains.
“That rule is stupid! I’m not playing anymore.” The opponent gets up and leaves.
Anyone who chooses a way of life must then live in accordance to that way. In this, Christianity isn’t any different. No one is forcing anyone to be Christian, not even Christ. However, anyone who chooses to do anything must do so in accordance to the rules.
Just like that game of cards above, the rules to Christianity are in a very-easily located rule book, The Bible. You can read it and decide you want to do what it says (as well as any fleshly person can), or you can read it and decide you don’t want to do what it says.
Again, that is the first choice that determines every other choice. But if people can simply understand that is the most important choice, maybe they could at least accept those differences and live in peace.
I’m a Christian. I’m going to vote in accordance to my faith. I’m going to raise my children in accordance to my faith. I’m going to treat my wife in accordance to my faith. I’m going to work in accordance to my faith. I’m not perfect. I’m going to make mistakes. So I have fellow Christians who can guide and correct me when I make a mistake just as anyone I play cards with might remind me of a rule I have to follow. They don’t do this so that my game is less fun. They do this so that I can keep playing.
The guy at work who comes to me and reminds me I should be working isn’t trying to ruin my life. He’s trying to keep me from getting into trouble or even getting fired.
The same is true of Christianity. Discipline, which is training, not punishment, isn’t to hurt the individual, it’s to help them. The more we remember that, the more we appreciate those who keep us in line.
For our panel: Why is it people are so passionate about debating what Christians should and shouldn’t do? Why are some people so ready to claim to be Christians and yet still so unwilling to obey clearly-expressed laws of God? Can people have it both ways? Can people say they’re Christian and still do whatever the feel is right? Why not? Are Christian rules put in place to control us or make our lives miserable?