Monday, December 25, 2006

The mind of A 22 Year Old..

I have noticed that within the Christian community here in America, we put "sin" if you will, on levels of severity. We as the church body say this is acceptable, yet, this isn't. For example, we have all heard someone say that Jesus frowns on smoking. Now I understand the health complications caused by smoking yet is smoking anymore of a "sin" than something else.

This frustrates me. As A young man who is doing his best to seek justice and the heart of God, I almost feel as though I am seeking after the heart of man and the "church" rather than the heart of God. It's sad when I am almost forced to follow guidelines that are put into place by human hands even if they aren't biblical principles or it's just a piece of the guideline set by Jesus . "Don't drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or have sex before you are married" is what most preach. Did we as the church body forget about the other biblical no no's?? How about Gluttony, gossip, lying, bearing false witness, stealing etc. Are these things any better or worse than the previous list? No! SO, why is it ok for Pastor Jimmy and the elders to go to country buffet and get nuts and eat 5 plates but it's wrong for me and a friend to have a conversation over a beer?

So could someone please help my young mind break some of this nonsense down??


o2thoughtful said...

Michael, the heart of God has a passion for holiness and purity in us. Sometimes we focus on the visible "sins" as we may not be committing them and it's easy to say you shouldn't smoke if you're not a smoker. I think our/my focus should be on ourselves, not on judging others. My question is what is there in my life that is offensive to God. And pray that it will be removed by God, whilst not ducking our own responsibility to take action where we can.

No doubt in my mind that the church in the UK, and I've done this too, focuses on visible sins such as smoking whilst ignoring others (how often do we seek forgiveness for ignoring Jesus passion for unity for example)?

Lets be encouragers, uniters and have a passion for holiness in ourselves. And live in the light of God's grace. What do you think?

Michael said...

You make a very good point and I completely agree.I think a focus on our own personal issues is the only way. To personally judge yourself will be more beneficial in the long run. Yet once again why are some of the visible sins worse than others?

David said...

Good point.
Let's all chat over a beer. ;-)

Seriously, the church has done a pretty good job of pointing fingers at others sin whilst keeping a blind eye on itself...the whole plank in the eye thing.
And I can say that I am completely guilty of doing it myself.

Makeesha said...

Good stuff michael, I'm going to create another post to share my thoughts.

John Lynch said...

Thanks for the thoughtful question, Michael!

Like you, I'm grateful that postmodern Christ-followers reject the legalistim of Christendom. Christ's real call to holiness is a strikingly more personal call, & surprisingly, a much higher standard for living than any rule-list (e.g. Matthew 5:48).

I used to think that verses like 1 Corinthians 10:23 ("All things are lawful for me; but not all things is profitable or edify") was a ticket to "messy" (i.e. sinful) living covered by God's grace. But then I discovered that what's "profitable" & "edifies" is a much greater standard of holiness than any kind of right-or-wrong thinking.

On a different note, I'm wary of emphasizing a focus on our own personal issues. I don't think anyone meant it this way, but it sounds like it could easily stray into the realm of self-centered vs. Christ-centered & communally-emphasized spirituality.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4 "I don't spend much time examining myself & know of no wrong in me that would lead me to. Still, I'm not excused; for I'm examined by God." And Hebrews 12:1-2 explains a holy focus isn't on ourselves but "on Jesus, the author & perfecter of our faith".

I quit smoking last year, not because it's sin or even because it's bad for me... just because God told me not to. He pressed the conviction on my heart that this strayed from His profitable, edifying will in my life. After letting me get away with it for 15 years, He literally forced me to quit. He's also pressed me to go to bed earlier, wake up earlier, & adopt spiritual disciplines way out of my comfort zone. None of this is the result of a right-or-wrong mode of thinking. Jesus just led & demanded my obedience. He hasn't told me to stop drinking beer or wine or using words like "ass". So anyway, there you go... a few confusing thoughts from my neck of the Reflect-o-Sphere...

- Peace, brother.

Michael said...

John that's a great way to look at this subject! I like the way you think... God is so creative in how he deals with us. He uses a different method for everyone. We serve a rad and creative God no?

John Lynch said...

No doubt, brother!

Al said...

I gotta jump onto this 1 Corinthians 10 idea. If all things are lawful in Christ, then it means I absolutely CAN chat this out with you over a beer. But I agree with John, it is a higher standard than the previous standard of the law. Suddenly it becomes a matter of individual conviction and also a matter of causing a brother around me to stumble. If I know someone with me might struggle with alcoholism then yes, it may be lawful for me to drink in front of them, but it would definitely not be profitable.

Going back to the other question you pose about sin heirarchy, I think there are some sins that we have phobias about as western Christians, and other things we have been desensitized to. So we can see excessive wealth / workaholism / idolatry of money all as lesser evils than a sin like homosexuality. Why? Is it because we're homophobic? Is it because it's a sexual sin, or a more public sin? I don't get it myself. I definitely hear non-Christians questioning this, as we are here. I think this makes us so hypocritical.