Saturday, June 11, 2016
The narrow way
"Be in the world but not of it"
"Take up your cross and deny yourself"
"Marvel not that the world hates you"
How does our modern Christianity line up with these statements from Jesus? Does the life we are living as Christians look like we are on the narrow way? Are we truly in the world but not of it? Are we really carrying a cross and denying ourselves?
Gay is OK.......
A lady on a Christian Facebook page I am on was arguing that gay is OK for Christians. That is one of my biggest pet peeves, so I replied to her. She came back saying that we need to look at all Scripture and interpret it through culture. In other words, some of what is in the Bible was just meant for that culture, but doesn't apply to others. Whaaat?!
We don't need the Bible anymore
We hardly need the Bible anymore. For some time now, people have demanded a chapter and verse for them to do or not do something as a Christian. Now we are beyond that. It can be in black and white in more than one chapter and verse, and people will reason around or twist Scripture so they can do what they want to do.
I have wondered many times what my Christianity would look like without a church, pastor, books, culture, or other Christians influencing my beliefs on what is wrong or isn't wrong. If all I had was the Bible and God, what would I believe? Would I be Arminian, or Calvinist? Would I think it was OK to watch movies like Fifty Shades of Grey, or would I believe that was wrong for me to do....would I even feel it was right to watch movies? How much skin would I believe it was OK to show? Would I still believe tattoos are something Christians shouldn't do, or would I have so many that I looked like a gang member? How would I live and conduct myself in all areas of life if all I had to go on was what I read in the Bible and got from God?
Can we dress like Victoria's Secret or Abercrombie and Fitch models and be on the narrow road?
Can we watch Game of Thrones and be on the narrow road?
Can we dishonor the Sabbath and be on the narrow road?
Can we keep our faith to ourselves and be on the narrow road?
We are influenced more by everything and everyone than by God and His Word.
Unfortunately, that is not a possibility for us today. Everything we believe about God, the Bible, what is right and wrong for us, and how to interpret Scripture is influenced by people and things outside of God and the Bible. If you have Amish parents, you are going to believe in extreme dress and living conditions to keep separate from the world. If you are raised by some modern Christians, you'll be told you can go next to naked and do everything the world does. If you are raised Calvinist, you'll be a Calvinist. If you're raised Arminian, you'll believe that way.
If you think about it, most of our beliefs and worldview comes from family, church, and other sources instead of from God and the Bible. We believe that is wrong because we were taught it. We believe a certain theology is right because our church and parents raised us to believe it. We all have the same Bible, but have differing beliefs and ideas that are often poles apart.
Extremes to the right or left are wrong and dangerous
Extremes in anything is wrong. The Amish are one extreme, where they try to cut themselves off so much from the world that they call things wrong that God would never expect. Then there is the opposite extreme: go naked if you want (slight exaggeration), have sex outside of marriage and with the same gender, do everything the world does and pick and choose what parts of the Bible you want to observe or not..... and still claim to follow Jesus.
We can debate and argue all we want, and no one agrees on everything.....but are we modern American Christians truly walking the narrow way, or are we on the broad road that leads to destruction?
Take the gay issue: There are several verses in both the Old and New Testaments that say it is a sin, an abomination, and that anyone practicing that sin will go to an eternity in hell. There are more and more Christians saying those verses don't really mean that, and God is OK with homosexuality. Question: Is a man professing to be a Christian while having sex with other men on the narrow way? Is he being in the world but not of the world? Is he denying himself and carrying a cross? No, no, and no. You cannot ignore what the Bible says about this sin and practice it, and claim to be on the narrow way. You cannot be denying yourself and carrying a cross while living an immoral lifestyle that God condemns as sin.
The gay issue is just the latest and most blatant twisting and/or ignoring of Scripture. We have taken God's Word and treated it like a bag of trail mix. I don't like raisins, so when I eat a bag of trail mix that has raisins in; I take the raisins out, That is how we have come to treat the Bible. We decide what we will obey and observe in the Bible. Culture dictates what is OK, and we Christians follow along. If it is unfair to us, we ignore it. If it is inconvenient, we reason it away or twist Scripture.
And yet God said if we obey Him, we will keep His commandments. How can we claim to love God and reason around His commandments and ignore or twist what His Word says is sin?
Warning: Personal stuff ahead.
Having same-sex attractions isn't an easy thing to deal with, though I have gotten to a place in life with God's help and maturing that it isn't as big of a deal as it used to be....... but it is still difficult. It is not a light and easy cross to bear, and it is a daily denying myself. I'd like to marry. I'd like to have someone to love and love me in return. I get lonely and long for companionship, but I cannot serve God and put my own desires above Him and His Word.
Is it fair? No. Is it convenient? No. But thanks to Eve eating the forbidden fruit and then using her female wiles on Adam to get him to eat it - my interpretation :-) - sin affects us all. From the teenage boy wondering why he is attracted to other guys instead of girls, to the young man born with no arms or legs, to the babies born with drug addictions because of a mother addicted to drugs....... and on and on. Life isn't fair thanks to sin.
But that doesn't mean we can toss out what the Bible says on things we don't think are fair or inconvenient. That doesn't mean the Bible is wrong because it condemns as sin what we struggle with. That doesn't mean God will wink at our sin as we do what is contrary to His Word.
Can I live the way I am living and truly be on the narrow road?
The idea among Christians today is "how much can I get away with doing and still make it to Heaven?" I may be cynical, but I have been there myself and I have seen and heard enough to know this is all too common.
A better question may be: can I live how I am living, do the things I do, dress the way I dress, view what I view, use my time the way I do, talk the way I talk, etc....... and be on the narrow way?
I have many Calvinist friends. I disagree with the doctrine, but have confidence in them...... but I fear this doctrine/theology has given some people the idea that they can do whatever they want and saunter into Heaven some day..... yet if we truly aren't denying ourselves and are not truly on the narrow way, the Bible plainly says we are on the broad way that leads to destruction......it won't matter what we professed and claim; if we aren't on the narrow way........it will mean destruction.
I am 100% including myself in this when I say it: We are way too self-centered, and too many of us have decided what is right or wrong for us, and feel we have a right to do as we want. We spend our time the way we want on sports, reading, entertainment, and whatever makes us feel good. We dress how we want, even if it may cause our brother or sister to stumble......after all, it is our right. We spend our money on what we want.
How are we different?
There are those who sacrifice everything to serve God. Many have lost their lives and have been tortured for serving God. Many have left everything to serve God...... and here we sit glued to our TVs cheering on the latest sports game, American Idol winner, and other shallow things that we are focused more on than God.
And meanwhile a world is plunging to eternity while we do our best to live as close to the world as we possibly can get. As many plunge towards and eternity in hell, we pat them on the head and tell them they are fine the way they are......and we stroll down the broad way with them that leads to destruction.
I want to honor God in all I do. I want to be on the narrow road and not the broad way that leads to destruction. I don't want to set down the cross I carry for an easier way, but I want to live a life that pleases God and I desire what He wants for me, not what I think is best,