Monday, December 29, 2008
Being The Body: A Conversational Example
Over the past twenty-four hours or so I’ve been in an ongoing online dialogue with a young man whom I’ve never met. We got to talking about a certain “somewhat known Christian leader” and his public stances on some issues. What unfolded was some great conversation that really addresses several issues that I seem to encounter A LOT as I talk to people online and in person. I thought it’d be a nice change to post some excerpts of our conversation because we really discussed some fantastic issues that the Body needs to address. Just for informational purposes, Ben is a 16 year old, new Christian who lives in United Kingdom. He is a perfect example of the countless Believers that desire Truth but can’t seem to see how it fits into todays modern culture and society. The positional church and the average biblically ignorant Believer just aren’t aiding them in their spiritual growth, for obvious reasons. It is our role to openly share what we know as well as what we don’t. This is life in Christ… this is the Body.
Ben stated that he thought a certain “minister” was “incredible”, so I simple started things off with the following (the only thing edited is our grammatical errors).
Joel: Curious..... what makes him "incredible"?
Ben: Just the things he says. His outlook on things. His message.
Joel: Do you believe that what his message aligns with the Word of God?
Ben: Yes and no, really. I believe that his message is a much more positive one than most "Christians". I also think he's a lot more truthful and honest than a lot others.
Joel: I agree with that, but I wasn't asking if he's "a good Christian" or "more positive". For example, I know he has been known to say that homosexuality is OK if that's what you want to do. Do you feel like Christians can ever be too accepting? Is "positive" always best?
Ben: After listening and reading what he has to say on homosexuality I must admit that I agree with him. One thing I agree with 100% is the fact that he says about their rights. It is a right for humans to be able to get married to the one that they love, and I feel you can't take this right away from them. Of course, it doesn't mean we have to necessarily agree that what they're doing is right, but I feel once you take away the basic rights that all human beings have (of any race, creed, gender) then that's really not loving, as Jesus taught us to do. We seem to confuse "love" with "control". We should not judge others because it is not our place to judge, that belongs to God and only God. We may not agree with them or their views, but we need to love them as a brother or a sister nonetheless. I think the same goes with anything, even within the church. Faith is interesting because we all have different ideas and interpretations on the Bible and what certain bits of it mean. And I think that's completely ok, because we are all individual and we all have different views on everything. We're never going to completely agree with one another on everything. I guess that’s why there are so many Christian denominations (I heard somewhere that it stretches into the thousands?)
Anyway, just a few thoughts there. It's a tough, but interesting, topic.
Joel: I completely understand and agree with you regarding unconditional loving, no matter what the circumstance. I do however disagree with your approach to marriage just being a "right" that people have the freedom to define. Marriage originated with God's Law and is in place to exemplify Christ and His Bride. Every aspect of marriage is in place to metaphorically represent our relationship with Christ.
From your standpoint, do you believe that Jesus, if He were physically on the earth today as High Priest would perform gay marriages and endorse them as valid before God?
Ben: I think that, like you said, marriage originated with God's Law and is in place to exemplify Christ and His Bride but I feel this has completely changed and is not so in our modern world, which is why i see it as more of a "right" nowadays. Seeing as anyone can get married nowadays, no matter what you believe in. I'm not saying that this is right at all, but I feel this is just the way things seem to be. surely a homosexual couple have as much right to marry one another than two crack-smoking straight Satanists? Because the latter could in this day and age, seeing as marriage is seen as a lot less religious as it really should be.
Joel: OK, I've got a couple responses to what you said then I'll leave you alone:
"Marriage originated with God's Law and is in place to exemplify Christ and His Bride but I feel this has completely changed"
God's Law has never changed and never will- it is His Law that is to be honored, not man's.
"I'm not saying that this is right at all, but I feel this is just the way things seem to be."
When will Christians stand up for what God deems as right and wrong without excuses and stop just accepting "the way things seem to be"? We're becoming pushover pansies for Jesus in my opinion - we sure don't want to offend anyone. Perfect love offends... it is ALL throughout Scripture.
"Marriage is seen as a lot less religious as it really should be"
Agreed. But, it is this way because years and years and years of people saying, "well, we don't want to offend...." or "well who are we to say what is law and what is not?". The thing is, I don't think it's fair that the church is against gay marriage, but the deacons pregnant daughter marrying her boyfriend is a non-issue. I'm saying, let's get back to the Word of God and leave our opinions out of it. All is becoming more and more corrupt within the Body and seemingly everyone is becoming OK with it. I am an Ambassador for Christ - all that an Ambassador is to do is to speak on behalf of His King - my opinions mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
Until the Body of Christ realizes that it is God's standards that need established, the Church will continue to fade away into oblivion. Who else is going to do it? If not us who claim to know Him and speak on His behalf, who?
Ben: Well, I must admit that your strong arguments have indeed changed my perception of things quite a bit. I agree with what you said, especially, about us being pushover pansies for Jesus. maybe that's where I feel like I'm going wrong all the time? I guess it's a fault I shall have to work on as best I can. and I agree with the fact that you say about us not wanting to offend; that is definitely the main reason I may hold back sometimes because I feel as offending is not loving. But, I'm obviously wrong.
Maybe someday they'll restore God's Law of marriage and things will be fine again. I dunno. It's a tricky one and because people are becoming a lot less religious these days things seem to be getting more complicated. I know America is very religious but over here in the UK it seems to be a very small percentage, dropping rapidly. It deeply saddens me that there are only a few (literally a few) Christian people in my entire area. Thanks for talking anyway and shedding light on where I'm going wrong.
Joel: Well first of all, I'm just not trying to tell you you have it all wrong, OK? It just saddens me when I see Christian after Christian feeling like if they ever stand up for what God says is Law, they are not loving.
Pertaining to your "alone-ness" - my wife and I, and many of our handful of close friends don't attend traditional church, so I know what you mean about feeling alone alot of times. For me, this makes it even more challenging. I know that I can't just blend in with the crowd or do what everyone else is doing. I have been called to represent the Creator of the universe in this hour. It is why I exist. He recreated me into the image of His Son and now it is my privilege to be His Ambassador.
Again, it's not about my opinions anymore than its about anyone else's. That's why the world won't tolerate Christianity - we've made everything about what "we think it should be" instead of allowing God's Word alone to "judge" ALL people, ourselves included. The "church" has classified and categorized sin and excluded themselves. It's no wonder people don't like Christianity really - I don't know why everyone is so surprised.
So, my viewpoint is, what will I do to redefine Christianity in my world? Someone has to do it! Easy, hard, alone or with many, it is why I exist. To show my world the reality of Jesus Christ, without excuse or wavering - no matter what it looks like.
Matthew 24:12 & 13 - "Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved."
So what do I do with this? I keep the Laws and endure to the end because the one who does will be saved.
Romans 13:10 - "Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."
Perfect love, rooted in the love of His Law first, then the love of others second, is the fulfillment of the Law. It is the completeness of the Law - it comes full circle when our motivation is love! So you see, one can love and keep the Law... when we do it how God intended. Enjoying this discussion - good stuff.
Ben: It's great to be able to talk to and to listen to someone like yourself. I’m a very "new" Christian who was not raised in a Christian household, who does not go to traditional church and who has very few Christian friends, so I've pretty much had to find out and do everything by myself, which I feel is definitely not working out for me because i feel very confused and alone in my studies; a lot of topics seem to confuse me to the point of feeling apart from God, which I hate.
I'd like to ask you a question that i feel confuses me, if you don't mind? What's your view on world suffering, both man-made and natural? I see wars, fighting, poverty, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc. etc. all the time that destroy and kill fellow brothers and sisters, and it confuses me that I don't understand why these things happen? Surely God would rid the world of suffering and anguish? This is a question that a lot of my deeply atheist friends challenge me on, and I feel as if I can never answer them truthfully as I myself really do not know.
Joel: In a nutshell, this world is fallen. It is in a sinful state where men do as they please with no regard for God or neighbor. When God created Adam, He gave Him dominion (rule) over the entire earth (Gen 1:26). What has man done with that dominion? We've squandered it all. We've abandoned God's Law and created our own (funny how this all ties together huh?).
So what do you get? Famine, disease, death, wars..... all is a result from sin and rebellion. People want to raise their fist and blame God, but God gave US the rule over the earth - it is our responsibility to execute His Law.
Ben: Because God is all powerful, surely He can solve it though? Otherwise it would mean prayer for help and for healing is useless, if all of this is our responsibility and our fault? What about natural disasters as well? Surely those aren't our fault? (Unless you count the possibility of global warming.)
Joel: Well, God can intervene whenever He desires, yes. But this is why it's so important for us, His people to seek His will and say as Jesus did, "on earth as it is in heaven". Although I don't understand it all in the slightest, God moves when we ask Him to move. He is not dictated or "ordered around" by us, but He does desire us to call on Him and rely on Him, knowing we don't have all the answers.
As far as natural disasters and stuff, that's a tough one. The Bible speaks of rough times all the way around when It speaks of end times - "birth pangs" within the earth is one of them.
One thing I've learned, as I talk with atheists and non-believers who want to debate - I don't know it all and never will. I have faith and trust that bridges the gaps and that's OK. I'm learning and that's all I can do. I can't explain to you how my eyes allow me to see either - the reality is, I CAN SEE! I don't need to know all of every detail as to why, I just need to move on and see. Make sense?
Ben: Yeah, it kinda does. Like you said, none of us know it all and we never will, which is absolutely fine. we've just gotta keep the faith. It just does annoy me when I see various Christians who claim they know everything and that they are completely sinless and perfect which is, of course, utter crap! I think one thing I do a lot is I feel like I've failed if I don't understand everything. I feel that to be Christian is to completely understand everything in the Bible, and everything He says. going back to before, i guess it's just the facade some of these Christians put over themselves that makes them seem as if they are all knowing.
Joel: Every day we've got to take a good hard look at ourselves. We've just got to remember that in Christ I literally am a new creation - not a better person or somebody who is enabled to do something different now - I am literally completely new. My entire life now is to be conformed into the image of Christ - period. Joel Spencer is dead - opinions, fleshly desires, etc. - I'm dead to it all. It is a process that will never end. I'll never know it all, so I might as well get used to it.
I've gained tons of ground when I realized about a year ago that it's not about what I DO as much as who I BE. Does that make sense? It is who I am, not what I do that makes me a Christian. I am a son of God - period, whether I feel like or not. It is my responsibility to mature and grow in Him from now on. That is why the Bible says that He who endures to the end will be saved (but we won't get into all of that). That doesn't give me license to do whatever I want of course, but you get my point. What I know or don't know doesn't define me.
Ben: Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me and explain some things to me. Like I said before, I was not raised Christian and have very few Christians around me, so I've felt rather stuck and confused for a long time now, so thank you.
Joel: My pleasure Ben, seriously. It's time that the Body start acting like we're actually connected. I may need your help in an upcoming situation you know. Stay in touch if you can.