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…