Friday, 22 November 2013

Another old post - I actually had some trouble digging this one up, since I couldn't find it on my timeline.

I find it so easy sometimes to be distracted from the reality of Christianity. I don't mean its truthfulness, though I will admit to falling into that snare sometimes. I mean what Christianity truly is.

So often, you will see people say it is hateful, it is ignorant, it is wrong. And they will have so many examples of this. Attributing religion to terrible historical figures, pointing out the plain bigotry and hate expressed by many people today that they excuse with a thin shield of "Christianity", or even that popular statistic informing us that x percent of people in prisons identify as Christian. When tossed about enough, these claims can instil a genuine shame in the name of Christianity, and even a rejection on some level. Who would want to be a Christian - no, who would want to be religious at all when religion is clearly responsible for so much wrong?

Or, on the other hand, there is the soft soap Christianity. The kind you wash your hands with to make yourself feel clean on the outside. The Christianity that doesn't judge, that would never dare to condemn any action that society has deemed appropriate. The Christianity that doesn't make claims of right or wrong, but says all the Bible really says you have to do is love everyone - with the meaning of that word becoming less defined every day. Truth? Oh, that's a dangerous word. Everybody is right, in their own way, and we'll all go to heaven when we're dead.

Both of these brands of Christianity can seem tempting in their own way. The former lets you safely disregard it as a backwards relic of an ancient culture, while the second lets you putter safely through life with the assumed title of "generally good person". But if there's one thing they share in common, it's this: neither of them are Christianity.

True Christianity is never shown in popular culture. Because true Christianity is beautiful, but terrifying. It is a religion of love, but it promotes a love that tells people when they're wrong. A love that embraces the sinner as someone no better than us, equally flawed and equally forgiveable, but still flawed, and still in need of forgiveness. Christianity is Jesus saying "I am the way, the truth, and the life. NO ONE comes to the Father except through Me."

Paul never taught us that people are basically good, or that anything goes as long as it's consensual. Paul said "Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) He clearly makes a distinction between right and wrong, between holding to the standards of the Bible or of the world. And right after that, in verse 12, he says "'I have the right to do anything,' you say—but not everything is beneficial. 'I have the right to do anything'—but I will not be mastered by anything." There are things you can do, even things you are allowed to do, that you should not do. Not because of human standards, but because of God's standards.

But despite these standards, we are not told to look down on others for their sins. We are not told we are any better than the rest. Jesus Himself, the only human who ever lived up to God's standards, washed His own disciples feet - even the one who would betray Him! His life was an example to us, and it was not an example of arrogance, of pride in your own virtue or talent. Rather, He taught us that the greatest among us are those that humble themselves before God and man. He walked with the sinners and the tax collectors, the reviled and hated, and He did not say what they were doing was right, but He forgave all who asked.

True Biblical Christianity is not easy, and because of that, it is so simple to call other things Christianity. To hate it, or to disregard it all together. But Christianity is not found on a happy middle ground between these two extremes. It is found on a Rock: the only solid foundation in this world. It is found in God, and taught in His word. Don't let people fool you into accepting a different Christianity than what is true. These are labels for the sake of convenience. Straw men that are set up by the very people who hold to them, to distract from the real thing.

When I forget the reality of Christianity, remembering it can be so easy. As simple as reading a passage from the Bible, or even just listening to someone talk real, sound theology. Sometimes it's an easy transition, realizing that the Christianity talked about by the world falls so far short of reality. Sometimes it can be difficult to acknowledge, though. Because Christianity is hard. It can be hard to understand, and it teaches things that can be hard to accept. But it is also beautiful, and most importantly, true.

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