Thoughts of a messed up Christian saved by God's grace

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Is there a chapter and verse for that?

  There was an article on Facebook this week about tattoos that go away after a couple of weeks. I glanced at the comments and one stood out. Evidently someone had posted something negative about Christians having tattoos, for this person was demanding a chapter and verse that says that Christians cannot have tattoos.

  We have gotten to a place that most too many of we Christians believe it has to be in black and white in the Bible for us to do it or not do it. There is a word for that: legalism. We tend to look at the Amish, Mennonites, and anyone else who have a lot of outward rules as legalistic... and it can be legalistic to just blindly follow the rules of a church or religious organization and never questioning anything or getting God's will instead of the church's.

  But it can also be legalism to just follow the rules of the Bible and believe we can do whatever else we want if the Bible doesn't specifically say not to do it. The definition of legalism I found says this:
strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription, especially to the letter rather than the spirit.

  The Bible is so much more than a rule book. It is God's love letter to us, and is a guidebook for us to follow as we journey through life. It is a book we can go to for anything in our life and find principles to help us know what to do in pretty much any situation. I firmly believe that though not everything is spelled out in "thou shalt nots", the Bible is clear enough for us to know whether something is right or wrong for us to do. If we truly want to know.

  We live too much for "me". It is our right to do this or that. And we will argue with and put down anyone who dares to suggest that a Christian should not do a certain thing. It doesn't help that the church is only 10 years or less behind the world. Whatever fad, habit, sin, or whatever else the world is doing now, the church will be doing in a few years. There are things that were once taboo and wrong to even good people who were not Christians that Christians are fighting for the right to do today.

We wear - or don't wear -  what we want to wear
We view what we want to view
We entertain ourselves however we want to
We talk how we want to talk.

  It is all about me, me, me, and me. One would think that for too many of us, we are the lord and god of our lives and it is all about making the god of me happy and satisfied.

  I have a friend I got into a discussion about modesty. I strongly believe the Bible has principles of modesty and that there is a limit to how much skin we should show. One of those reasons I brought out was we should not dress in ways that will cause others to lust. We are commanded to not do anything to trip our brother up, and though that can be taken too far most of us don't take that at all. This friend told me in no uncertain terms that "there is no way I am going to let some guy's lust problem dictate how I am going to dress!" She, and others insist it is all on the man. It is his fault if the way a woman (or man) is dressed causes him problems, and none of the fault lies with the person who is dressed in ways to cause lust.

  This is not a post about modesty, so I will go on a rabbit trail with that, but think about those statements for a minute. Is it really true that we can dress like a Vicoria's Secret model or a Chippendale dude, and if a Christian brother or sister is tripped up, tempted, and has more problems controlling his lust.... that it is all on them? That we are guiltless because we have a right do dress how we want and to show as much skin as is legally allowed? Now some people are going to struggle with lust if people were covered head to toe, but tight clothes, revealing clothes, low necklines, short shorts, halter tops, no shirt, etc. are going to be more tempting than someone dressed decently. Is it truly following the spirit of that verse about not causing a brother to fall if we are dressing in ways that may likely cause him to fall?

  And granted, the offending your brother could be taken too far, but if we are honest most of us don't take that verse at all. We do what we want and live how we want with no regard to how we might affect a weaker brother or sister.

  A few months ago, a popular book was made into a movie. 50 Shades of Grey was the thing to see. I watched the movie trailer to see what the fuss was about, and that was enough for me to know that anyone who truly wants to keep their mind pure should not see it..... yet many Christians did and hotly defended their right to see it and poo-pooed anyone who dared suggest it wasn't something anyone should see. To me, it was pornography. Not all pornography has total nudity or visual sex acts.

  But the Bible doesn't say we can't watch 50 Shades of Grey...... But it does say not to set any wicked thing before our eyes. It does say to think on what is pure, good, of good report, etc... It does say to look lustfully on a woman (or man) is to commit adultery in our hearts, and I am sure there was lust involved as people watched a beautiful scantily clad woman tied up and abused by a virile shirtless hunky man.

The Bible doesn't say "thou shalt not do heroin, cocaine, marijuana, meth, etc.".... yet even non-Christians know the dangers and would scoff at the idea of Christians doing drugs. We just know it isn't something anyone should do, but especially Christians.

  There is no verse in the Bible that says we should not hurt animals, yet one cannot believe and read the Bible and not know that a Christian should not mistreat an animal.

  I could go on and on with examples of things we know Christians can't do. Granted, too many are twisting Scripture to excuse behaviors and things that would inconvenience them, so even if everything was in black and white in the Bible there are people who would worm around it.

  But if we truly love God. If we truly are taking up a cross, denying ourselves, and following Him....we won't find his commands difficult. We won't try to twist Scripture to suit our purposes. We will make our lives fit into His will, not make His will fit into our lives.

  I believe 100% that God cares about what kind of music we listen to, how we dress, how we spend our time, what kind of movies or TV shows we watch, what kind of language we use, what we put on our bodies or do to our bodies..... if we truly care to get His will and opinion on those things.

  The Bible is full of verses we can apply to our lives and how God wants us to live in every area of our lives... if we want that. If we want God's will and not our own, and truly want Him to be the Lord and God of our lives and not for us to be god.

  I heard a story once that comes to mind as I was typing this blog post: After a couple got married, the husband presented his wife with a list of his expectations and from her that he wanted in their married life. There was a lot on the list, and she found it a burden that caused her to resent her husband. The result was a very unhappy marriage. After her husband's death, she eventually remarried. After she had been married to this second man for a while, she ran across the hated list from her first husband. As she glanced down over his list of demands, she realized with surprise that she was doing everything on the list for her second husband, but didn't mind it at all and did not find it a burden. The difference was it was not demanded of her and there was mutual love and respect so she found herself willingly doing those things out of love.

  If we truly love God, we are not going to need a chapter and verse that spells everything out. We will daily seek His will and weed out things in our lives that we feel may displease Him. It may mean not watching some movies, wearing some clothes, not following some fads, and not doing some things that it seems all other Christians are doing. But we aren't meant to please and be like other Christians. We are to please and be like Jesus.

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