Monday, February 28, 2005

Non-Christians and the Rules

In my last post, I spent a considerable amount of time showing how I love rules and why they are important to me as a Christian. As I wrote, the rules -- or the Law as the Bible calls them -- point us to God and push us to be the best we can be. But I would be remiss if I didn't point out the relationship between the non-Christian and the rules. That seems to be a love-hate relationship.

On one hand, the non-Christian has little use for rules which conflict with his or her own preferences. Actually we all have this problem. Don't like the speed limit? Put it to the floor! Ignore the rule. . . until you see the squad car up ahead. Face it, the easy way out of the whole "rules scenario" is to ignore the rules. Justify it to yourself and put it to the floor. It can be done by denial of truth or a preference for a lie. But there is an element of hatred to the relationship between the non-Christian and the rules.

But there is also a sense in which a non-Christian's best friend is the rules. He leans on the rules with wild abandon. How so? Because the if the non-Christian believes that there is anything awaiting after death, his only hope of reward is that he kept enough of the rules to qualify. The argument has been made that if there is a heaven and a hell, that hell is for the truly bad and that heaven is waiting for those who don't break too many rules -- at least not as many as the really bad folks. In essence, the non-Christian is hoping that keeping the rules is what saves.

Interesting, isn't it. The presence or even the quality of the afterlife being based upon how well you keep the rules. Of course it's completely inaccurate. After all, how do you decide how many rules you can break? 100? 2000? 1,000,000? Is there a cutoff?

There is a cutoff. It's one. One sin and you're hopeless to get to heaven by obeying the rules.

This is what Christianity is all about. Don't be fooled by anything you've heard growing up. Don't be lulled into a false sense of security that you can work your way into heaven. You can't do it. Neither can I. Christianity is all about accepting Christ as your "ticket" to heaven. His perfect record (sinless) is put in the place of our imperfect record (sinful). That's what Christianity is all about. It isn't about leaning on the rules, as so many uninformed people assume. It's all about leaning on the only One who kept the rules perfectly.

I don't like being a preachy guy on this blog, and I know this came out that way, so forgive me for that. But that is my heart. I don't want anybody operating on false impressions. If you think the rules are the key to heaven, you're sadly mistaken. And if you think that there are no rules -- no absolutely true moral standards -- then you are also sadly mistaken. There are many objective truths which tend to be pushed behind all the subjective opinions. And those rules are not there to be ignored.

I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ because it is at once so easy and so difficult. Easy to trust Him. Difficult to learn that you, yourself are not trustworthy. I came to understand this the hard way, kicking and screaming all the way. I know it's a tough journey. But finding the truth is worth the effort.


Angela said...

Hey My name is Angela. I am a crhistian. and i was wondering if you were too. I love god with all of my heart mind and you? i saw some things in your blog that led me to beleive that you were a christian and i think that it would be really nice to have some good christian friends well my blog is

Not Crunchy said...

rev-ed, I'm wondering what you are basing your ideas of non-Christians on? You said, "But there is an element of hatred to the relationship between the non-Christian and the rules." I am not a Christian and I doubt that you would find me breaking any rules of Christianity, unless you count not believing in Christianity as breaking a rule. Religion probably has very little to do with one's ability to follow accepted rules of morality.

You go on to say that non-Christians actually lean on the rules so that they can squeak their way into heaven through good works rather than faith. Well, if that person is following rules so that he can get in heaven, doesn't that mean the person is a Christian, or are you arguing that this type of person is just plain dumb? Otherwise why would he be worried about it in the first place?

rev-ed said...

NC - I realize I probably wasn't as clear as I should have been here. It was getting a little late and I think my head may have exploded.

Here's the premise: Generally speaking a non-Christian will have two responses to the rules (by "rules" I mean God's rules to live by or Moral Law). One response is that of, "I don't care about God's Moral Law, I follow my own moral law." That is the hatred for the rules I mean. Maybe hatred isn't the right word, but I've talked to plenty of people who tell me that Christianity is just a bunch of rules given by the church to keep the people in line. You should hear the venom in their voice when they say the word "rules" too.

The other reaction is most often from people who like to call themselves Christian but their only tie to Jesus Christ is perhaps a prayer when a family member is in the Emergency Room. (And believe me, I see plenty of those!) Those people have a false sense of security because of their love for the rules. In their way of thinking, provided they don't obliterate the 10 Commandments, they're into heaven! But, as I pointed out, that's incorrect based on the entire teaching of Scripture. If a person is relying on following the rules to get into heaven, he's missed what Christianity is all about. Faith is all about knowing that we don't go to heaven based upon what we do. Now certainly I try to uphold moral law, but not to earn heaven -- I do it because God has changed by heart and I want to live to please Him.

Now I certainly realize that some people don't fit neatly into categories, and you're probably one of them. Yet most people who are not Christians either play the whole game of thinking they've followed enough rules so they don't need the trappings of "church" or they have such disdain for Christianity that they dismiss it out of hand.

Also remember that I cannot view morality as anything other than being based upon the truth of God and His teachings. I understand that "your morality" may not line up with "my morality" but that's not the morality of which I speak. Morality is based on truth and is unchangeable. There are times where "my morality" doesn't line up with God's True Morality, and when I realize I am off base, I don't ask God to change, I am the one who must change. And yes, it still happens.

I'm hoping that this is a little more clear, although I must admit that I'm working in my daily morning fog. Most times I don't think I can do justice to what God has given me. This is one of those times.

angela -

Yes, I'm a Christian, although far from perfect. Read through some of the blog entries and you'll see a few looks at my daily struggles to conform to the image of Christ Jesus in my life. I'll stop by your blog when I get some time this week.

rev-ed said...
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greasy joan said...

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