August 13, 2008
You Mean I Can't Do Whatever I Want?
Over this past weekend, I followed and participated in an incredible discussion on another blog.
I held a rather unpopular position during the discussion--which is OK--but the tone of the discussion was rather striking to me because as I embraced Christianity, I have understood this decision to mean that I can't do whatever I want and that my personal preferences would be subject to the guidelines of my beliefs. How silly of me to think everyone viewed it that way.
I'm increasingly concerned about how credible Christianity will appear to those outside of "the fold." We are under a real challenge to hold ourselves obedient to our own faith. Everyone I know agrees loving your neighbor and forgiving people are good ideas. Who would object to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you"?
Then we get to more unpopular pronouncements from "The Founder":
34"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn
" 'a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law -
36a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'[a]
37"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Does this just sound like too much? Getting into and staying in fellowship with God is a real challenge and not for the self-determined. If you say "yes" to one direction, plan, or purpose, you are often required to say "no" to another. If I seek God, I'm aware I can't live life on my own terms. Otherwise, why seek God? What does it mean to lose my life for Jesus' sake? If it means anything at all, it means I chose to set aside who I would be on my own and embrace His plans and purposes for me. It means I am not the final judge of what's good, what's right, or even what's important. It means I will make my best efforts in all of my pursuits and let Him make the final call regarding how well I did.
Following God is not mandatory and everyone has the option of saying "no" to God's offer. Saying yes, however, means doing things God's way and that almost always means I will have to give up something I really like or really want in exchange for something higher, possibly more difficult or inconvenient, but more pleasing to God. That's what followers do. Even when they don't feel like it.