Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jesus Vs. Rules

A few months ago I was in a conversation wherein I asked/challenged my companion, "What if we just simply gave people the Bible and community and stopped trying to make up rules that aren't to be found anywhere in Scripture"

To which he (to my horror) replied: "Because the Bible would give them too much freedom."

I'm sorry but it as this point that my hackles raise. There are many things that have been said about what the church should do but among that list I have NEVER heard non-attenders/former-believers/critics/the spiritually curious say:

1. I would go to church if only there were more rules.
2. Why can't they just play some more hymns?!... (or music I don't recognize)
3. Pews are my preferred furniture.

Truly shocking is the proclivity of many "Christians" to follow the example of the early Pharisee believers who wanted to circumsize Gentiles (non-Jewish) Christians and demand that they follow the Law of Moses. In Acts 15, Peter (one of Jesus' top 3 followers) says this:

"So why are you now trying to out-god God, loading these new believers down with rules that crushed our ancestors and crushed us, too? Don't we believe that we are saved because the Master Jesus amazingly and out of sheer generosity moved to save us just as he did those from beyond our nation? So what are we arguing about?"

But new believers did need guidelines so later on in Acts 15 Peter, the apostles, and early leaders write a letter giving instructions:

1. Don't be involved with idols
2. Don't served food (such as blood) that is offensive to Jewish believers
3. Guard the morality of sex and marriage

Honestly, that seems like a strange set of rules to me but there is method to it and it has nothing to do with "do's and don'ts" to get to God. These are guidelines set to protect and stimulate the community humanity has with God and each other within the church.

Later Paul (NT author) writes to the church in Corinth and tells them that among people who claim to be Christians you have to hold them to this standard found in Acts 15 but as for outsiders/non-believers we withhold judgment since they haven't signed on board yet. (Scripture here).

Allow me to reiterate this point: it is NOT the church's place to judge the world. It's not our job. Stop doing it. How is it helpful to point out the obvious? Yes, the Bible does discuss specific behavioral patterns that are and are not "godly" but these make about as much sense to a non-believer or brand-new believer as you being informed that you are in violation of an Islamic-based law in the Middle-East. Do you care about that? Oh, well, they don't care either.

So over the next weeks we are going to reapply the guidelines in Acts 15 to the de-churched and un-churched of today's world. Our list looks like this:

1. Sex and dating
2. Things and money
3. Music, beer, and food

Hope you can follow along. We will also be posting talks to iTunes under Crux KC Online.

Remember, Christ told us to judge as we wanted to be judged. I, for one, would like a SUPER-lenient hearing.


Anonymous said...

I think I understand the main thrust of your post and agree with it. But I wonder if it dulls the ability of the church to speak out against the evils in society. For example, I think your comments could be construed to say that the church should not speak out against human trafficking because judging the world is "not our job." Can you help me understand how that is not what you're saying?

ScarredWarrior said...

Great point here. As a "just war" and "death penalty" advocate I say this: there are things you can do on this earth that will earn you the "human" punishment of death: war crimes, rape, child molestation, etc. But in no way to I wish those people hell and/or damnation.

Avoiding judgment in this case is meant as avoiding holding lifestyle choices that do not physically harm others to our standard. E.g. I do not hold an atheistic drunkard to my standard of living but would fully advocate that person doing time in prison should they drive under the influence and hurt/kill someone else.

The human trafficking is a HUGE problem because it is rape. slavery, and murder- affecting a another person's basic human rights... however, if a man and woman who are unmarried and have no Christian beliefs/convictions/community and are living together then I am not passing judgment.

Let me know if I am still unclear on any of this.

Anonymous said...

I believe I understand what you are saying, but it seems you are introducing a matrix of "basic human rights" here to help you in your decision-making. Where did you get that matrix? How did you decide what those rights are?

For example, you think that slavery, human trafficking and rape are worthy of judgment; but you don't think that cohabitation is worthy of judgment (even though it was a capital crime in the Old Testament). I think I know you well enough to say that you do think cohabitation is detrimental to society. Why then should the church not speak out against it? Or, are you saying that the church should speak out against cohabitation but not directly to those who are engaging in the practice?

ScarredWarrior said...

Cohabitation... tough one. It is things like that I would consider "Christian moral convictions"... if you are not a Christian then I shouldn't be judging you living with someone else. Why would we expect "sinners" not to sin? If I weren't a believer and had no faith and love of God I would be sinning- I couldn't see a reason not to.

But things that are forcefully taking lives and/or health and/or wealth are what I would call "basic human rights".