Sunday, October 12, 2014
The reason for being a Christian
I asked the question, "if it is true that once we become Christians, there is nothing we can do to miss Heaven, and that we sin daily, then why should I fight my sin? Why not give in and have that be my daily sin?"
I got some well thought out replies that although no one convinced me that Calvinism is right, they gave me great food for thought and some points that I could agree with. One of the replies came from a man I became friends with through the group and that I also had the privilege to meet in person: " imo Christians have done a disservice to themselves in making achieving heaven the *main* goal of our earthly life. Eternal life is a gift from God provided to those who have accepted into their lives the sacrifice of Jesus' death and resurrection for their sins. Would you choose to follow Jesus if eternal life were not a benefit? But Father put us on earth mainly to love, honor, and serve Him." (Daniel Mingo)
And he is correct. If one could put all of the sermons together I heard over the years from Sunday morning and evening services at church and Sunday School lessons, to revival and camp meeting services, and examine them for the reason for serving God and being a Christian, I believe the person examining them would come up with the hypothesis that the reason we become Christians and live for God, is so we can make it to Heaven.
Back to Calvinism for a minute. I can see weaknesses in it, and no one has been able to give a good answer to a question I have put to them about eternal security, but there are also weaknesses in Arminianism (that is what you most likely are if you are not Calvinist).
There is a reason I tend to avoid most revival services and camp meetings. I like my pastor. I may not agree with my church and him on everything, but he has never been one to badger and tell scary stories to get people to go to the altar. He has never preached a Gospel that makes it sound like Heaven is the reason for being a Christian. However, most of the preachers that have preached a Gospel that caused me problems, have been the ones who I heard in camp meetings and revival services. They helped to cause thinking such as:
1) God is just waiting for me to mess up so He can wipe my name out of the Book of Life.
2) Heaven is the ultimate goal, and my chances of getting there are so slim, that I most likely won't make it.
3) I can never be good enough to please God or cause Him to love me
4) Every day is a constant battle to stay on the road to Heaven
5) If I mess up and sin, I have to beg God to take me back. This involves a long prayer and lots of tears. And I must confess my sins out loud at the altar.
Now to be clear, not every preacher I have sat under contributed to those ideas, but a lot of them have. And though I firmly believe one can walk away from God, can live a life of sin and miss Heaven, I have come to believe it isn't as easy as some of these preachers had made me think it is to miss Heaven.
And I have come to realize that Heaven shouldn't be the main goal, the reason for serving Jesus, the reason for choosing right over wrong, the reason to stick out in a world where the majority of people think you're weird for not living for oneself.
I am realizing being a Christian is to live for Jesus and please Him. He left Heaven, lived as a human being for 33 years, then allowed Himself to be tortured and killed in a horrible way so we could be saved from the wrath of God. We should serve Him for at least the reason to thank Him for that. If a person saved our life, we would be thankful to them forever and most likely spend the rest of our life showing them.
We are here to serve Him, to preach the Gospel, to win others to Him, to be light in a dark world. We aren't here to sit back and wait for Heaven. Heaven should be the icing on the cake, not the cake itself. If there was no Heaven to go to, we should still love God enough for what He has done, that we would still serve Him and live to please Him.
If we are serving Jesus to avoid hell, we are doing it for the wrong reason. If we avoid sin out of fear of missing Heaven, we are avoiding sin for the wrong reasons. Jesus is so much more than a "get out of hell free" card.
Christianity is about a relationship with the God of the universe. I am not married, but I know enough about marriage to know that if a couple loves each other, they will do things to please the other out of that love. They don't daily do things for the other out of a fear that the other person will divorce them and kick them out of the marriage and out of their lives.
I can't imagine having friends who do things for me and hang out with me out of fear that I will stop being their friend if they don't do everything exactly right.
So why do so many of us have that kind of a relationship with Jesus?
I believe whether we are Calvinist or Arminian in doctrine, we should live daily trying to please God and avoid sin, not out of any fear of hell, but because we love Jesus and don't want to hurt Him by sinning against Him. And if we sin, ask for forgiveness. If we live like that, it may not matter if we are Calvinist or Arminian.
However, if the Calvinist figures he may as well do whatever he wants and whatever feels good, he has it wrong. If the Arminian lives in daily fear that God is going to get the white out and wipe his name out of the book of life, he has it wrong.
It is all about a relationship and loving the other person in that relationship. In this case, the other person is Jesus Christ, and He died for all of us. That should be reason enough to serve and love Him. Heaven? It will be a wonderful place to go to, but not the reason for being a Christian.