It’s As Simple As A Choice
The purpose of this chapter is to remind readers of the choice they made. It’s the same, ultimately-simple choice we discussed a few chapters ago. You can choose to be Christian, or you can choose to not be a Christian. If you choose to be a Christian, you have chosen to live a Christian life by Christian values.
What happens is people get angry at those Christian values or rules. That’s always confused me. If you’re not Christian, you don’t have to follow the Christian rules.
One possible explanation though is that some Christians strive to ensure all humanity follows those values. Christians believe certain things, and they vote in accordance to those beliefs. They support causes according to those beliefs. Some of those beliefs are in direct contrast to the way of the world.
A major source of conflict is when people support their beliefs and others don’t. I was playing a video game one night. I didn’t do very well. This particular game requires teamwork. One of the people I was playing with didn’t feel as though I did a particularly good job. He sent me a message using language I won’t repeat. I don’t honestly remember all the details, but he eventually asked what my deal was. You see, he kept trying to get me to lash out in anger. On another night, I might have, but that night, by the grace of God, I didn’t fall for that temptation. In some mocking way he asked why I wasn’t shooting insults back his way. I told him, “I’m a Christian.”
His next message declared all kinds of things. I received things like “I’m a terrorist” or “666” (I remember that last one clearly). It dawned of me.
“This guy is just doing all he can to make me mad for the sake of making me mad.”
That’s when I realized that people sometimes get angry just for the existence of a different opinion.
I won’t pretend Christians don’t fall for this temptation. I see plenty of things that I fervently disagree with, and sometimes my anger gets the best of me. But this is where things come to a head.
I can tell you what I know (and I’ve never pretended to be more than just some guy working to understand the truth). You can choose to accept what I say, or you can choose to reject it. It’s ultimately that simple. Neither of us needs to loose our heads about it. When I say, “I believe this is wrong.” You have every right to say, “I believe that it’s right!”
For Christians, we don’t judge the situation by our own reckoning. We believe humans are flawed creatures to begin with. What can my mortal mind reason out that the Almighty doesn’t already know? This, in my mind, should eliminate much of the debate.
If you’ve rejected Christianity, you’re going to live the life you’ve chosen to live. I’m not able to stop you. I can, and will, continue to proclaim Christ, His life, His death, His resurrection, and His commission. You can choose to listen or not.
But if you are a Christian, we have a standard to turn to, to test and judge rightly (John 7:24). Christian debates, in my mind, should always end with the disputing parties looking to scripture.
If someone shows me in scripture that what I am doing is expressly forbidden by God, then I need to stop. The person pointing out the scripture to me isn’t making me stop; God’s commandment is ordering me to stop.
Yes, some people are out there twisting the word of God to make you do things or not do things you have every right to do or every right to refuse to do. I can’t stop them from speaking, and neither can you. But we don’t listen to men, at least not just any man. I’m a member of a church. I give deference and submit to their leadership by choice. I chose to submit to their leadership because I believe that they understand God’s word better than I. If there’s ever a question or a doubt, I can bring the matter up to them, and we discuss it with love and respect. We look to God’s word for clarity.
What happens though is pride gets in the way. I see it all the time in all sorts of situations. Maybe I’m a work and someone says, “You’re supposed to document this interaction with a student.” Someone get’s called out, and rather than just accept the information and move forward, they get defensive. I’ve done it.
I believe the desire is to elevate myself (when I do it). Ask yourself how often you’ve said something like, “Everybody does it” or “Nobody else does it.”
That’s lowering the standard from God’s commands to that of the other mere mortals around you. Ultimately, who cares how you look in comparison to those around you?
If you combine all the religions and philosophies of the world, you still only come to a possible three situations when you die.
- You go to Heaven, where there is only joy, love, and peace. Who cares how many people are in paradise with you? I’d be a bit more concerned with who isn’t in paradise if I’m concerned about anything at that point.
2) You go to Hell, where there is eternal pain and torment. We’ve talked about this situation already, but if you’re suffering unimaginable pain and torment, I’d imagine you’d be more angry about those who influenced you than those who tried to convince you to resist temptation. Why do I believe this? I’ve been in trouble before. I’m sure you have too. That’s when I hear, “They did it too!” I’ve even said it myself. I’ve been so mad at people who showed me the wrong example. I’ve been angry that I never saw the right example. But even in times when I wasn’t punished alone, I wasn’t comforted. If all my brothers and sisters were right there with me while I was being punished, I wanted my punishment to end. I’d even turn in someone else just to end my punishment. We see it in court. We see it at work. We see it everywhere. Readers, if you’re suffering in Hell, the chances are, your biggest concern will be the fact that you’re suffering in Hell. No amount of others around you will ease your pain.
3) Nothing happens.
Those are really the only three things that could happen when we die. You ultimately believe in a Heaven, Hell, or both, or you don’t. But how you compare to other mortal people around you is meaningless in all three of those situations. If you’re in Heaven, it doesn’t matter what those who were with you on Earth did because you’re in Heaven. If you’re in Hell, it doesn’t matter what those around you did because you’re still in Hell. And if nothing happens, no one cares about anything because you’re dead.
So there’s no scenario when comparing yourself to another person really does anything for you. Whatever religion you follow, you should submit to the rules of that religion. Then, when we all die, the correct religion will be proven one way or another. Just remember it was you who chose that religion. If you don’t have a religion, then live as the Israelites in the time of Judges lived, doing what is right in your own eyes (Judges 21:25). Then, when we all die, we’ll find out. Just remember, you choose to live that way.
Why am I spending so much time on this topic? Because people want to argue, debate, or fight over beliefs, and it’s just not profitable in any respect. Sure, if someone asks why I believe a certain thing, I tell them. Every now and then, I see a meme that honestly hurts my heart. I might send a message to the person privately and ask, “May I explain why that hurt me?” or “Would you like to understand how a Christian sees that?” If the post is just there to anger Christians, I don’t bother. People who do that are seeking anger and argument, and I don’t have time for that in my life.
But we’re about to talk about Christian law, and I need you to remember something.
Do you want to be a Christian or not?
If you don’t want to obey Christian law, then don’t be a Christian. It’s that simple. You don’t need to fight about it. You don’t need to argue. You just choose.
However, if you choose to be a Christian, you then must learn how a Christian should live and behave. These rules shouldn’t burden you; they should set you free. You just can’t have it both ways.
You can’t say, “Well, I’m a Christian, but I’m going to go ahead and lie to my father.” You can’t say, “Well, I’m a Christian, but I really feel I should spend my life with this person instead of the one I’m married to, so I’m going to divorce my spouse so I can spend my life with this other person.”
But here’s the beauty of being Christians. For those who truly repent and seek forgiveness, we are already forgiven! The price is already paid!
I’m indeed Christian, but I’m as far from perfect as I could ever imagine. I have sinned. I will sin again. I won’t do so blatantly and without remorse, but I’m going to mess up so long as I’m in this cursed flesh. But I won’t do so habitually. I won’t pick “that sin I’m going to do because no one is perfect.” I’m going to do my best to live as Christ wants me to live, appreciating the forgiveness and Grace He gives when I stumble.
So when I talk about Christian law, I’m absolutely saying these are things Christians should strive to do (or not do) at all times. I don’t present them to accuse you. I don’t present them to condemn you. They’re simply the ways a Christian should live. They’re not presented as I think they should be. They’re presented from the Bible as the standard and word of God Himself. It’s not my opinion, God never asked for my vote or input. They’re just the rules I’ve chosen to live by, and you can choose to live by them too. If you choose not to live by them, well, I can’t make you. We don’t need to argue or debate.
Some may want to. I can imagine someone asking me, “Who are you to tell me how to live?” Nobody! Again, I’m not the one who made the rules. God made these rules, and He’s the creator of the Heavens and the Earth and all the host of them (Genesis 2:1). How do I know what God wants? I study the Bible, to learn what He wants.
Again, I’ve answered the debate about the mortal authors of the Bible. I’ve answered the debate about those Christ chose to lead the early church. I’ve addressed all the conditions that apply when one ultimately chooses to obey Christ or not. That is the choice. If a person can actually choose to turn from God (and they can and do), then I’m certainly not going to make you listen to my mortal mouth.
But it isn’t my goal to get you to listen to me. It never has been. My goal is ultimately to get you to listen to God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The God who created the world. The God who loved us so much, He sent His only Son to die for us so that those who come to believe in Him can have eternal life (John 3:16). If you’ve already rejected that message, then go on about your life. But if you’ve chosen to believe in Christ, I urge you then to look at the things He’s told us, He’s telling us, to do.
For our panel: Do Christians have the right to tell others how to live? How should a Christian respond to one who’s rejected Christ’s commandments? What do we do when a conflict presents itself because of our faith? Why is it people react so passionately to Christian values (both believers and unbelievers)? How can one best present their viewpoints for mutual upbringing without turning it into an argument?