This has been bothering me for weeks now.
Being a Christian means alot of things for alot of people. I can’t help coming away from my jaunt around the Internet without picking up the impression that anything goes as a Christian. And to give everyone a frame of reference, I’m not just talking about my circle of friends; I get around on the ‘net. It’s everywhere. I came across a gay Christian teen site that explained away any negative reference to homosexuality in the scriptures (Sodomites were bad because they were gay rapists). Chic Christianity is telling me that so long as I ascribe to a vague, amorphous, culturally acceptable ideal called love, I’m ok and you’re ok. There are more variants of “Christian” belief than there are fast food franchises.
I believe that the Bible makes it clear that only Christ’s righteousness makes us holy. When we accept that by faith, we are saved from our wickedness and we now wear Christ’s righteousness. Our actions don’t enter into it (except to damn us). But here’s the part that has me morose. 1 Peter 2:16: “Not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” What exactly does liberty mean? “As free” the verse begins, but free to what? Maybe it’s freedom from sin.
But the law is dead, no? Practically speaking that means my actions have no bearing on God’s favor towards me; it’s only because of Christ’s sacrifice. Isaiah tells me my righteousness is like filthy rags. I’ve always held that we obey God and do what’s right as a thank you to His gift of salvation. The end result of that mentality, even if it is the correct thinking, I’m afraid, is a collection of Christians (myself included) with elaborate schemes of pursuing happiness here because sin is no longer an issue (I’ve been forgiven, bless Gawd!).
After a great deal of soul searching and tears, I muster the idea that we don’t want to be “bothered” with Christ. If the Bible addresses our pet peeves, then we hop on the soap box and stamp around a bit. If, on the other hand, the Bible pries at our frame, weakens the joints of our human constitution, challenges our most prized conclusions, we talk it away, fearing collapse, because a collaspe means a rebuilding is in order.
And almost immediately the great, heavy hand of rationalization rises up to squash the thought: Divinity has touched humanity; there must be some value in what we do, no? He at one time chose shittim wood and gold to hold his glory; He has more recently chosen these jars of clay to pour His Spirit into. The value is in the Essence, but is there no intrinsic value in the vessel?
The question is what makes us valuable? Do we have intrinsic value, beauty in our frame, our diversity, our imagination, our relationships that is a reflection of God’s hand in our creation? Or are we worthless without Christ? This may seem trivial and irrelevant, but here’s the intersection: if there is any beauty in our lives before Christ, should that play a role in our lives as believers?
And this question tears at me, because my American individualism wants what I do to matter. In Christ, it really doesn’t feel like it does. All I do is washed in the blood and comes out looking white as snow. My bad is bad and my good is bad; Christ’s good is all. It’s a sort of optimistic nihilism that frustrates me because it’s produced a moribund church that has no visible change on the world around us because works don’t matter. Or if they do matter, they are simply our own agendas, dressed to kill in Bible verses and clever phrases.
Where is the light yoke? Why is this burden on my mind not lifted? I am so tired of ineffectual Christianity, especially when it’s chief proponent is yours truly. But most every time I rise from my bed and step towards holy living, my sinful soul cries out (echoed by many others): “I have liberty in Christ, so don’t talk to me about holy living!”
I’ll be painfully practical for a moment. What is the difference between the person who curses others, drinks themselves silly, sleeps around, takes God’s name in vain, gawks at pornography, gossips, lies at work, thinks themselves better than others and is caught up in this world’s system and a person doing all of these things wearing a badge that says: “Hello, My Name Is Christian”? God doesn’t save us because of what we do–that would be legalism. But doesn’t Christianity change us? And not just in metaphysical ways; I’m talking about real and tangible demonstrations of a new nature within us.
So the long and short of it is: How has Christ changed your life? Do you believe that change (if any) is an indication of your salvation? What if that change wasn’t there?