I found the following passage from Jessica Kelley’s old blog, and I’d like to know what you think. Here it is:
“Many Christians today insist that the keys to living a moral life are not drinking, not smoking, and not having extramarital sex. While avoiding these indulgences may help one to have a healthier body and avoid emotional baggage (benefits God surely wishes us to enjoy), do such omissions really help one be more Christlike? How much more discipline and faith does it require to actively give of one’s time and resources for the less fortunate? To practice selflessness and peace? Which would God prefer? What does the Lord require of us, but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God?”
This intrigues me because I feel that Christianity is often posed as a list of things that one CANNOT do, as she has listed. Yet sometimes, I feel that what gets left out are some of the other things: HOW to love thy neighbor as thyself, HOW to worship God in spirit and in truth, HOW to seek God with our whole heart, HOW to trust in the Lord with all thine heart. Are those not as valuable as the list of “cannots”?
I suppose the argument would be that your actions reflect an inward change, and that if one has TRULY been born again, then they wouldn’t take part in such activities, and that their actions would indeed reflect that they know Christ. But in all honesty, that’s not for me to judge. I’ve got my own issues that I’m trying to improve on and settle with the Lord before we have our meeting.
We’re currently in the Lenten season, and I’ve heard different people express to me what they are giving up this year as to be mindful of the sacrifice of Christ. While that’s cool, before I give up anything, I always think back to something that my former pastor told me. He said that during the Lenten season we have a tendency to give up something that is indeed a sacrifice, but not necessarily something that will make us a better Christian. If we are going to go through with this sacrifice, we should do so with the goal of becoming a better Christian. So, giving up chicken or chocolate may be a sacrifice, but will you be closer to God after it’s over? Just a thought…
And for the record, I don’t have the answers on how to live a moral life. I just try to follow the Lord and do the best that I can.
March 8, 2009 at 1:49 pm
it’s crazy that you mention this topic. God’s been really dealing with me concerning this issue. i’d have to agree with you that your everyday laundry list of christian dos and donts doesnt work; it’s for this very reason that God challenged us to change the way we think. the only way ‘we’ can effectively change, however, is to remain in His presence. at the end of the day, we as christians need less ritual, and more renewing of our minds as we remain in Christ.
March 26, 2009 at 9:53 am
it’s interesting you talk about this. I do find it odd that in a religious observance, people focus on giving up things that have nothing to do with religion or spirituality, and instead focus on things that “make them more healthy” or “help them lose weight”. I think if you go through the process of sacrifice, then the purpose of the sacrifice should be to improve one’s relationship with God.
Just one man’s thoughts.
March 26, 2009 at 5:27 pm
Q, I agree with you; however, who’s to say that someone who’s goal is to become more healthy or to lose weight isn’t a religious or spiritual journey? I only say that from the perspective that sometimes we, as humans, tend to seek comfort in things- such as food, clothes, etc. When those things become our idols, perhaps it is good for us to give those things up and get back to the basics with a focus on Christ.
That said, my prayer is always that a person would be led by God as to what they may give up for the Lenten season, and that it’s never done for selfish, personal gain; but truly to give glory to God and be thankful for his ultimate gift to us.