I couldn’t help but post it once I saw that fluffy canine!
I recently recalled a conversation that I had on a forum with an atheist/agnostic about Christians and how we live. The subject came up in an odd context, but the resulting conversation surprised me. It revolved around the idea of how Christians live life. I was amused at the mental image this individual had of how I, as a Christian, would live my life and enjoy it, or rather, not enjoy it, according to them.
I have a feeling that there are misunderstandings out there because of specific teachings of certain denominations that tend towards legalism. Yes, there are some denominations that preach that you can’t watch television, or movies rated over PG…that you can’t read a copy of Harry Potter, can’t wear makeup, can’t smoke, can’t drink, etc… etc… However, that is a list that someone has decided on their own is proper, nowhere in the Bible does it prohibit such things.
My belief, which I feel is backed by scripture, is that a Christian is free in the Lord, as I’ve said before; freedom with responsibility, and that we should live by faith. My partner in the conversation was quite surprised when I said that I felt my Christian faith enhanced my life, and that I did not feel I had a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” to live by. I watch what I want on TV, some rated R movies are my favs, I read what I want to read, listen to whatever kind of music I like, play what kind of music I like on my guitars…I’m a woman, and wear makeup, pants, jeans usually, and converse sneakers when I’m not teaching. I drink alcohol, but don’t get drunk, I write fiction, and used to enjoy a game of Magic: The Gathering back in the day, but prefer the XBox 360 now.
The Lord is not some cosmic killjoy. Yes, I know that there are groups of Christians that cling to legalism that would have you believe that, but it isn’t true. He came so that we “might have life, and might have it more abundantly.” Now, are there certain things I stay away from because of my faith? Absolutely. There are also certain things I avoid because I feel prompted by the Holy Spirit. There are also secular reasons to avoid certain things; some things, like certain kinds of music just annoy me, so I change stations when they come on. There are psychological reasons for limitations on our viewing/listening habits as well, and health reasons to alter our behaviors.
The point is, is that coming to faith in Christ, and giving yourself and your life completely to Him isn’t going to “end your fun.” By no means…in fact, the joy that one feels in everyday life is enhanced by faith such as that. There are some Christians that feel called by the Holy Spirit to avoid any and all alcohol, and that means they should avoid it. Some I’ve talked to have felt convicted to give up secular music, well, then they should. You see, the Holy Spirit knows exactly what each of us needs and what we don’t need in our lives; what will make our lives more “happy.” For some, they might not be able to handle limiting their alcohol intake, or perhaps their children might have a problem with it, so they should indeed avoid alcohol if called to. That’s living by faith, not legalism; letting God guide us in our relationship with Him.
Now, the other aspect to this is to remember not to offend your brother/sister in Christ. So, no matter who gets into my car (except my hubby), regardless of their religious beliefs, I turn my blaring radio down because I like to listen to bands such as Breaking Benjamin at high volume. Ben likes to drop the occasional F-bomb, amongst other things, and I realize that might offend some people, so I shut the radio off or tune to a neutral station.
Christians are individuals who live individual lives; we are not all the same, and we certainly don’t all live the same way. Will there be similar beliefs? Yup. Will we all hold to certain fundamental ideals of right and wrong, you know, the big ones, such as “thou shalt not murder,” sexual morality, not stealing etc… Yup. But that in no way detracts from out lives, unless someone contends that we have to go out and murder, pillage, and plunder in order to have fun… We also will slip and fall, and sin quite spectacularly, Christians are humans too.
Remember the two greatest commandments are to love God, and love our neighbors…yeah, the Lord is out to rain on our parade for sure…
Yes, the ‘Scribbler has been absent awhile, and that is because of the Holidays of course. This is one of those special times of the year when many of my far-away friends come home to roost…and to eat and share news. This got me to thinking about the role of friendship in Christianity, and in our spiritual lives.
Each of my friends has such a different personality, each interaction is slightly different. What we talk about, where we talk, what we do whilst we are talking…each relationship is different, but each is equally important. In another blog post of mine I discussed my wonder that Jesus actually considered humans friends. It never gets old thinking about it.
I dwell on the twelve apostles, and think it is interesting that scripture gives us enough information about these men to realize that they too each had their own individual style, and they must have each had a slightly different relationship with Christ. To me, this glimpse into this very human relationship and situation supports the idea that humans do need one another in friendship.
Many relationships are covered in Christian books and seminars; the relationship between boyfriend and girlfriend, husband and wife, parents and children, etc… but there’s not a whole lot out there on the relationship between plain ol’ friends from a Christian perspective. We can even tell from Paul’s writings that the friendships alluded to are not always just betwixt the same genders, friendships existed between males and females as well. Of course, some of the terminology puts this kind of friendship in the Christian brother/sister frame of reference, which is only right.
Regardless, friendships sustain us, whether they be long distance friendships, new friendships, old…and we should remember to thank God for those types of relationships. It may be a bit cliche, but even if we have no other friendship on this earth, Christ is always available to fill the slot. Sometimes we don’t think of Him in that way, and sometimes we don’t feel worthy enough to count Him amongst our friends (we aren’t, that is why grace is so lovely), but we should remember those times when He pointed to flawed, fallible human beings just like us and deemed them “friends.”
We should also not take our friends for granted, and always be on the lookout for new ones we may meet along the way.
Just wanted to take time out from overeating to wish all my readers a “Merry Christmas!” If anyone is going shopping tomorrow, be careful, have fun, and find good bargains. 😉
You want to get a “good” argument going amongst believers? Try this timely topic; What should Christians think (and do) about Christmas? There are many sides to this issue; on the extreme ends we have people labelling other people “heretic” if they don’t celebrate Christmas, and on the other, equally loud declarations of “heretic” if they do (yes, there is just a touch of hyperbole in there, but it’s actually quite close to that sometimes). Here’s the short and sweet answer;
Romans 14: 4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. 5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. 6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.
Granted, Paul wasn’t talking specifically about Christmas, but the teaching still fits. It’s true that Christ was not born on December 25th, but that is the day the RC picked to celebrate it on. Was it because of the proximity of the pagan festival that occupied the season? I’m sure that played into it. The question is, that if that is true, should Christians celebrate Christmas or not?
I think it is important to recognize the truth; that the date isn’t the actual date of Christ’s birth. It is also important to note that Jesus never instructed us to observe His birth, nor did the apostles. What He did tell us to remember, and to do was to participate in communion, or the partaking of the bread and wine in memory of Him; of His life, death, and resurrection. I believe that puts the celebration of Christmas firmly in the “freedom in Christ” category.
I personally believe that if you feel compelled to celebrate Christmas, if it is a family tradition and you like to decorate and have a tree and such; go right ahead. If you don’t feel compelled to celebrate it, you don’t like decorating, or putting up a tree, that’s fine too. It isn’t anything that believers should fight over, though I do think it is important that everyone does know that Christ was probably born in the fall or spring rather than the wintertime. Also, if we believers do celebrate it, I’d like to see more of an emphasis on Christ, what His birth means, His fulfillment of prophecies, discuss when He might have actually been born, etc… and less emphasis on consumerism. My memories of Christmas that I’m the most fond of are those surrounding family “get-togethers;” not for the presents I gave or received, or the decorations, but because of the people, laughter, and fun that came with seeing one another and eating a family meal and just “hanging out” together.
I also think that Christians should know a bit about Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights. We are in the midst of the eight days right now, and perhaps I’ll make a bit of a post about it later. In a way, I believe that the RC laying claim to the 25th, instead of incorporating a remembering of Christ’s birth into a Jewish celebration shows the move away from Jewish roots, and into a more “Roman” way of thinking/doing things. This has important implications for other outside influences that may have crept into the RC.
How about Santa? Well, this debate comes up when believers wrestle over the idea of what to tell their children. I’m all for honesty, and doubt if I’d lead my child to believe in Santa, but I understand parents feeling compelled to carry on the Santa Claus tradition with their children. I see nothing wrong with sharing that the figure of Santa Claus is probably derived from Saint Nicholas, and it is up to each person to decide how they are going to “handle” this tradition.
Anywho, I just think it is a timely subject, and would be interested in hearing opinions from any of my readers about it as we head into Christmas Eve. As for me, I don’t put up a tree, nor any decorations, really. I do celebrate Christmas with my family, who really enjoy putting up trees and the like, I give gifts and eat a lot, and like to learn about Hanukkah and all the detail surrounding Christ’s birth…and above all I try to remember every day that my Saviour lives, and remember that His birth, life, death, and resurrection is why I can be assured of my salvation…He’s already given us all the greatest of gifts, we just need to make sure we realize it and accept it.
There is a way to make a more scholarly statement on this topic, but the title is pretty much the bottom line. I’ve realized this for a while, but never really mulled it over seriously…modern peoples are freaked out by truth claims, especially religious truth claims. Now, I’m not limiting this to non-believers, but yes, I’ve picked up on this vibe from the non-believing individuals I’ve talked to often.
If you make a claim of truth or knowledge, often your discussion partner acts as though you’ve slapped them in the face. I have to admit that it amuses me, even though it shouldn’t. I recently had a back and forth with an atheist on a forum; our back and forth regarded the phrase, “I know.”
I was informed quite seriously that I cannot use that phrase, that it is inaccurate. I got quite a chuckle out of that. I informed them that English is my first (and only) language, and that it can indeed be used accurately, “I know I’m not feeling hungry right now,” “I know one of my nicknames is Kliska,” “I know that I had a turkey sandwich for lunch,” “I know that Jesus is Lord,” “I know that I have a pond in my yard,” “I know that my house is white,” and on, and on…
I feel our society is partially to blame for this shock and amazement…everything is so “wishy-washy” anymore. A majority of the people don’t even bother to try to get the know the truth about themselves, esp. when the truth hurts, let alone the truth about anything or anyone else. Parents are beginning to lose their knack at parenting (have you noticed that?), part of which stems from a lack of consistency, which could be connected to a denial of the existence of truth; plain good ol’ black and white truth that back up the idea of true right and true wrong. The truth in our society has become negotiable. Morality has become negotiable. Tell someone that it isn’t and you get stared at like you have two heads, esp. in the realm of Religion.
If a Muslim tells me he knows that Muhammad is a prophet, I don’t get upset. I don’t agree with the Muslim, but I don’t get upset that the Muslim is making a truth claim. I can’t say the same for the majority of humanity, however…or I guess I should say, the majority of “Westerners.” Make a claim, “I know for a fact that Jesus is Lord, and He’s the only way to the Father” and you are likely to cause mass panic, unfortunately this can also be seen amongst my fellow “Christians” as well (I put “Christians” in quotes for dramatic effect, I cannot judge their salvational standing, it’s not my job). It is getting far less popular a thing to make any sort of truth claim in religion.
What has struck me, is how they must have looked at Jesus when He made the very bold, but very true claim, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) Not only did He claim to know the truth, He claimed to be the walking, talking, eating, drinking embodiment of Truth itself. I’ve said it before, “how I love the Lord!” There is no wishy-washy here, no beating around the bush. You know precisely who and what you are dealing with.
I’m comforted by the fact that God has a preference for this style of truth and communication of truth, and that He expects us, and likes us to use “I know.” Revelation 3: 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Anywho, just a few musings on a very windy day, “I know it is windy at my house today…”
I know many of my fellow Christians get frustrated from time to time when discussing Christianity with non-believers, and yes, I too get frustrated from time to time. Why is the frustration there? Many times it is because something seems so obvious to us, and we know it to be true and we are trying to explain it. What’s the problem? Often times it seems the other person just isn’t getting it, and we can’t figure out why. It is the truth, we know it is the truth, we see the evidence plainly, why can’t they?
Well, the answer is in scripture, and we just have a tendency to forget it sometimes.
1 Corinthians 2: 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
There are aspects to God character, God’s ways, His plans, etc… that cannot be captured by man alone, the “natural man” literally cannot grasp them. It takes the Spirit of God to communicate those truths to us. Much of our frustration arises out of trying to explain deep theological issues, or describing God’s character or actions to someone who admittedly does not believe in Him…if they are not born again, then The Spirit of God does not reside in them, hence is not communicating to them in the same manner as He is to us.
This is not boasting, nor mocking in any way, shape, or form. It is a truth that we cannot deny, and anyone who has gone through a conversion experience to Christianity can testify to this idea. The Spirit is quite capable of working on the “outside” of natural man, drawing him, prodding him, nipping at his heels in order to give that natural man a choice…enabling grace. This is why the gospel in all it’s simple beauty is to be preached to all; it is that chance to faithe, to choose, and is understood with the help of the Spirit if only from the “outside.”
But, it is the “meat” of our faith that can be frustrating to communicate, in some cases even to fellow believers.
1 Corinthians 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
Paul is pointing out that while these Corinthian believers have the Spirit, they are not responding to that Spirit and growing in Him as they should; hence, Paul has still been feeding them “milk” as one would a babe, and not “meat.” I can sense Paul’s frustration here, as it appears he wishes he could really dig into deeper spiritual teaching, but must hold back. Our frustration often comes when we do try to delve into deep spiritual teaching and we actually expect a “natural” man to respond as though he already has the Spirit of God dwelling within him. (Also, this is actually a problem with many churches; they fail to feed the flock with meat as the flock grows in knowledge, the preachers keep dishing out milk as though they are still dealing with babes. As the babes grow up they crave meat, but the milky preachers don’t/can’t provide it.)
I once had an conversation with an online acquaintance who was not a Christian, but who I had a relationship based on calm dialogue, back and forth, kicking around ideas. After failing to explain, what to me was very obvious, I finally put my thoughts into words. I told him the situation was like trying to describe the visual perception of colors, movement, light, etc… to someone who was blind since birth. That is the level of perception that God’s Spirit brings into someone who faithes on Christ.
Far from being angry or being offended by my comment, it helped them to understand the frustration that I was indeed feeling. Now, my point is that it does no good to be frustrated; it is understandable, but does no one any good. If you find you are getting too frustrated; remember the important point; it is never our own words that bring about knowledge or illumination; it is the Spirit. He can work through our words, especially the good news of the gospel to quicken hearts, but it begins, carries on, and ends with the Spirit.
Now, there are a few other points I want to add here. First, I think Hume makes an odd “mistake” in his supposed logical argument against the existence of God. If God is both omni-benevolent and omnipotent, why do we have evil? Hume only includes God’s benevolence, and God’s omnipotence, and then attempts to pit them against each other. One thing is obvious, he believes he is making a case against the Judeo-Christian idea of a God, which I do find significant in that it is usually the idea of the Christian God that non-believing philosophers, are dead set against.
So, I don’t find his argument against God holds up even under the logical scrutiny of other non-believers if they realize that God has many more attributes that must be taken into consideration. The first two that jump to my mind is God’s Holiness and His Justice. Is God benevolent? Yup, but He’s also Holy and perfectly and absolutely Just. This factors into the free will solution as well; God has a standard, if we fail to meet that standard, He will execute Justice.
Adam ate of the tree and the prescribed action in the divine justice system was quickly carried out. Again, one cannot put forth an argument against God if one does not have, or present, an accurate “picture” of the very thing one is arguing against.
The other side to all of this talk of the “problem of evil” is that it is self-defeating when offered by a non-believer as an argument against God. To label something well and trully evil, there must be an absolute objective standard of what evil is. Just as with morality, the concpet of evil has no meaning if there is nothing but matter; if we are but mere matter, there cannot be anything truly called “evil.”
There can be things we do not like, but any connection to real morality would not be there IF we are nothing but mere matter. Whether or not Hitler was right or wrong in his actions, for example, would only be someone’s opinion. As a Christian, I can truly label Hitler’s actions as evil and wrong, and have those labels be meaningful. By phrasing the problem of evil as the problem of evil, a non-believer is basically admitting that there is indeed real right and wrong; an absolute standard. This “argument against God” falls prey to itself.
Now, there are some non-believers who will put this argument forward, but what they are really asking a believer to do is to explain evil. The very human question, often asked in times of pain, depression, death, etc… is “Why?” Many of the “solutions” I’ve put forth in this series covers that idea. And, yes, I do favor the free will solution. It makes sense both logically and scripturally.
But, in the end, I don’t find Hume’s “problem of evil” a problem at all, not in the sense of an argument against the existence of God.