Getting to Morality
For at least five years now I have been a little hesitant to talk about the moral implications of Christianity. My hesitation comes from many years of living in a faith that was primarily about rules to follow. I’m not sure that was how it was presented, but that’s how I took it. I wasn’t ever very passionate about following Jesus when I thought that mostly meant adhering to some regulations that kept me from doing some fun crap. As I discovered a real, deep faith in Jesus I shied away from getting too hung up on the dos and don’ts and focused more on what it meant to really love Jesus and see the world from his perspective.
Recently I’ve been seeing why the moral implications of Christianity are so important though. The difference between now and fifteen years ago is the path I take to seeing their importance. That’s confusing–I’ll explain. For a long time I saw morality as this code you had to live by to appease God. And that code was pretty narrow–no sex, no alcohol, no cussing. Be a “good kid” so that God doesn’t get mad and cut you loose completely. I know this sounds like the opposite of the grace I was taught in church, but somehow I got both messages. God loved me no matter what, but I better not screw up too much.
My reasons for a renewed interest in Christian morality now are different. There are three primary ones. 1) I’ve learned to see a more robust picture of what Christian morality is. Sure, it has things to say about sexuality, what we eat and drink, and what comes out of our mouths, but it’s also about how we care for the poor, living for the good of others, and not being greedy. Christian morality isn’t about a few rules, it’s a different way to live all together. 2) I really love Jesus and I trust him. The Bible says if I love him then I’ll obey him. So I want to do that, not out of obligation, but as an expression of love. Plus, I believe through his life and the Scriptures we’ve been given the direction to live the best life possible. 3) If we’re going to give this world a picture of the freedom, hope, peace, and love that are meant to exist in the kingdom of God, we have to live differently. For example, it’s not about staying sober just for the sake of being sober. Getting drunk has god-like properties in our culture, and it signifies escape from reality. We serve the living God and he wants us to help shape reality, not escape from it. The kingdom of God is upside-down from the kingdom of this world and people won’t ever see that if we live out the values of our culture. We need to follow God’s directions for how to live to be a faithful witness to him.
I’m excited to live out this morality and encourage others to do the same. But I want to lead people in following it for the right reasons. Sometimes our perspective on something just depends on the path we take to get there.