Christianity has become so misunderstood. We’ve started seeing it as a list rules to follow instead of a vibrant, healing, redeeming, life-giving relationship with our Creator. In fact, I rarely like to use the word “can’t” and “Christian” in the same sentence, because I believe the essence of our faith is about freedom and the fact that we …”CAN do all things through Christ.” (Philippians 4:13).
For all our freedoms in Christ, I’m deeply concerned that many of us have lost sight of the essence of Christianity. While it was never intended to be a set of rules to follow, we’ve adopted some destructive attitudes and behaviors that are undermining the foundation on which our faith should be built. This list below isn’t a call to any form of legalism or any attempt to earn God’s unmerited grace, but rather, a simple reminder about what it means to live in the freedom and grace our Savior gave His life to make possible for us.
This list is not comprehensive, but all of these are important. When you blow it in any of these areas (as most of us do daily) remember that God’s grace is bigger than our biggest sins! Embrace His grace and move forward in a better direction.
A Christian should NEVER…
1. Hold a grudge.
As I read the Bible, one of the most sobering realities is that while God’s grace to us is limitless, He gives it to us in the same measure we give it to others. In other words, we CAN’T receive God’s grace unless we’re willing to also forgive the people who have wronged us. Augustine said, “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and then hoping the other person dies!” Jesus Himself teaches this important truth in many places including his famous Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor. As a Christian, we have to receive God’s forgiveness and we have to share forgiveness with others. It’s that simple.
“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Colossians 3:13)
“Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” (Matthew 18:21-22)
2. Devalue or mistreat children.
We live in a culture that seems to value pets more than kids. We live in a world where more children than ever are being exploited through sexual slavery, human trafficking and other horrific abuses and Christians should be on the front lines in rescuing and protecting these kids, but too often, the plight of orphans and abused children is treated like an inconvenient distraction in modern churches. There are also millions of Christians who support abortion rights which is the most dehumanizing practice of our time. It isn’t a political issue, but a moral travesty. For more on this, check out these 5 surprising teachings about abortion in the Bible. As Christians, we have to value and protect kids from conception on up.
“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (James 1:27)
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart...” (Jeremiah 1:5)
But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.” (Matthew 19:14-15)
3. Misuse sex (or misuse another person for our own gratification).
Our culture is the most sexually exploited and exploitive culture in the history of the world. We’re so saturated with sexually-exploitive images that we don’t even think of it as strange anymore than a fish in the ocean doesn’t realize he’s wet…it’s just the only world he knows. As Christians, we are called to a high standard. We shouldn’t be having sex outside of marriage or looking at porn (for explanation and stats on this check out “The Truth about Porn“ and also “5 surprising teachings about SEX in the Bible.“
“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” (Ephesians 5:3)
“Anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” –Jesus (Matthew 5:28)
4. Be anxious, worried or afraid.
This one doesn’t seem possible on the surface, but God is always calling us to do things that don’t seem possible. On nearly every page of scripture, He is telling us to stop worrying or to trust Him. He clearly wants us to understand that He is bigger than whatever we’re worrying about. When we choose to go through life preoccupied by fear or doubt, we are allowing worry to occupy the part of our heart where faith should live. For more on this, check out the 4 keys to overcoming FEAR.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:25-27)
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